Trinidad and Tobago attempts at authoritarianism

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Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley

Dear Sir

Labour lawyer’s in Trinidad and Tobago specializing in constructive dismissals and such, there will be much work for such professionals. The Keith Rowley government shut down all but essential public service’s in December. A directive, hitherto, stating that all public employees must be vaccinated if they wish to receive their earnt pay.

The government has advertised that public servants who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 will be furloughed. Yes, the Rowley government has given their employees the choice of keeping their employment if they are vaccinated or no employment without that vaccination. Very Democratic of them. Those who cannot return to work, due to this vaccination mandate, will not be paid.

The National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) encouraged its members to show up at work and register. If an employee is not allowed to do their jobs, it is an offence against their legal contractual rights as an employee and Union member, and such an act can be viewed as constructive dismissal.

The Rowley government is playing loose and underhandedly with the energy portfolio also. The National Resource Fund Legislation has come under the direct control of the prime ministers’ office, (PMO) and minister Rowley.

This transition from an objective, non-partisan committee to the direct control of the prime minister is putting Trinidad and Tobago in jeopardy. The promised wealth of the island’s natural resources has seemingly fallen into politicians hands. Perhaps, one can look out for the many lobbyists from the energy and development sectors that are ready to pay a pretty penny to these politicians open hands and offshore accounts. Many thousands of oil workers are stranded in a vortex of uncertainty while their firms decide whether they will continue drilling for oil, or be on standby while corporate giants compete for these firms future ownerships. The National Gas company’s 30,000 employees future depends upon it.

Trinidad and Tobago has fallen into a more centralizing authoritarian time set, where the rights of an individual employee mean little to the grander scheme devised by the government and large corporations.

The vaccine protocols can be applied without forcing individuals to become vaccinated. The Omicron variant can be managed using these protocols, with high praise and encouragement to being vaccinated. Mass vaccinations have been offered in mid-December, at the same time the vaccine directive was pushed through governmental agencies.

The government has seen the opportunity to consolidate its power and influence over its citizens. This health crisis has created fear and chaos throughout the Caribbean, and as we all know, when chaos and fear reign, great opportunities to take advantage of the situation is available to those in power.

Steven Kaszab

Bradford, Ontario

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