Regional union, IUF stands in solidarity with sugar workers
The curtains today (Wednesday January 18, 2017) came down on the two-day Fifth Caribbean Regional Conference held under the theme “Organise, Fight and Win” with Guest Speaker and Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo making a call for trade unionists throughout the region to, at the national level, push for their Governments to address matters that hamper the state’s ability to do what they should for workers.
Jagdeo during his address at the Conference held at the Grand Coastal Hotel alluded to that fact that the Region is heavily indebted and matters continue to worsen, citing the need for an indepth assessment at the National level within each country.
He cited the need for greater explanation of economic concepts and what they mean to the workers in terms of their rights.
Jagdeo alluded to the fact that in over 30 years there was never a wage freeze as experienced in the past two years under the new Government. The plight of those in the sugar industry was also highlighted by Jagdeo, who explained the concept of Fiscal space, an excuse, according to him, that the Government uses often to justify its actions, particularly in the sugar industry. However, the Opposition Leader, who is also an economist said it is all about choices.
Meantime, Clifton Grant, Regional Secretary of the International Union of Food (IUF) recognized the contribution and role of domestic workers to the advancement of organizations, although seldom acknowledged.
He reminded that trade unionists have a duty to ensure that workers’ rights are protected.
Grant said the IUF stands in solidarity with sugar workers and the trade unions representing them given the challenges they now face with regard to that critical industry.
The International Union of Food (IUF) headquartered in Switzerland was founded in 1920. Ten countries were represented at the two-day conference including St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, and Jamaica, among others.
Three affiliated local unions, GAWU, NAACIE and CCWU were represented at the event along with 17 other trade unions from across the region.