By Caribbean News Now contributor
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- Dr Amery Browne, the member of parliament for Trinidad’s Diego Martin Central constituency said he has been approached by constituents who have been negatively affected by the recent firing of many workers by a state board that has been under increased scrutiny in recent times.
Dr Amery Browne
Browne condemned the timing and manner of the dismissal by National Petroleum (NP) of 68 workers who were fired by the company on October 22, 2013.
“Questions must be asked of NP’s politically appointed board of directors that chose to wait until the day immediately after local government elections to put these families on the breadline, when the alleged industrial action that the workers had taken occurred back in mid-August,” Browne said in a media release.
He added that, because of its actions, the government now stands accused of manipulating the workers to potentially exploit their votes on October 21, prior to discarding them the very next day, and of using the distracting period between the local election and the St Joseph by-election as a “convenient” time to strike this blow against the affected families.
“This government continues to treat workers and their representatives with scant respect, whilst simultaneously finding quiet ways to shift state resources such as service stations into the hands of family members and friends of the ruling regime,” Browne continued.
With what he described as the suspicious timing of such dismissals, the MP said the government continues to provoke and raise the temperature of the labour sector and the general public, and is thereby further undermining confidence in the economy, in stark contradiction to the promises that the UNC had made to the membership and leadership of trade unions when they were seeking their votes in 2010.
Browne said he is of the view that the situation is not totally beyond salvage, and recommended that the government takes immediate steps to advise the board of NP to reinstate the dismissed workers on humanitarian grounds, to enter into further dialogue with their trade union representatives, and to properly account for the unfortunate decisions that resulted in service stations suddenly falling under the control of family members and friends of this regime.