FTUC’s Response to Prime Minister’s Comments on ATS Workers
The FTUC is not surprised by the remarks attributed to the Prime Minister regarding the lockout of ATS workers. As usual, he plays the blame game on politicians and trade unionists for this unfortunate dispute but says absolutely nothing about the real issues that gave rise to this situation. He conveniently forgets that he himself is a politician and forgets to understand that as Prime Minister, his comments need to be responsible and considered.
The Federated Airline Staff Association (FASA) is an affiliate of FTUC and as such has sought the assistance and advice of FTUC. As National Secretary, I am duty bound to assist. The Prime Minister must also understand how trade union work. Their very existence is founded on workers solidarity. It is for that reason all trade unions support the workers. In a true democracy, the citizens, political parties, Religious Organizations and NGO’s are free to air their support for any cause that they stand for. Workers’ rights cuts across all rights and is part of human rights. It is therefore proper and responsible for all to speak out against any injustice. The Prime Minister would do well to understand better how true democracy works.
The Prime Minister talks about labour laws but fails to understand how the law works. Further, he blames the Union for the walkout when everyone in the country knows, including Management of ATS that the meeting was called by and conducted by ATSET, the 49% shareholder of the Company. Clearly the PM is either mis-informed or simply does not have his facts correct.
It is ironic that the Prime Minister should call on workers to sign a document admitting they did wrong in attending the shareholders meeting when he himself to date has not admitted, let alone in writing that it was wrong and illegal to overthrow an elected government. The workers are not going to implicate themselves just to serve the ego of Riaz Kaiyum and his elder brother Saiyad Kaiyum, who the Prime Minister obviously supports. Personal attacks on the salaries of trade unionists is not going to help when the entire country knows the exorbitant salary, allowances and other perks that the Prime Minister himself enjoys greatly while globe-trotting or trotting around the country campaigning on taxpayers’ funds. It is time for the Prime Minister to look into the mirror first.
We also note that the Prime Minister and others who support Management shed crocodile tears for workers at ATS for not being paid last pay day to support their families. This brings to the fore, why aren’t the same people crying for the thousands that are unemployed or underemployed in this country or for those who earn NEC wages at $60.00 a week or those on Minimum wage of $2.68. How do these people survive for their entire working lives? I do not see the same people shedding tears for them including the Prime Minister and his Government.
We call on the Prime Minister to educate himself on the real issues that gave rise to the Workers Trust calling an emergency meeting and also the long list of grievances that workers have had going back eleven (11) years. He needs to understand that workers need a decent living which they are entitled to and dignity at work. As 49% shareholders, they need to be consulted and represented on the Board of ATS which they have been denied of late by his own Government. They are equally concerned about the mismanagement that has prevailed in the company which ultimately will affect their interest in the Company. They, therefore have every right to raise their concerns as shareholders.
Let me finally assure the Prime Minister that FTUC has nothing to gain from this dispute, but workers at ATS do and they need assistance of FTUC. FTUC will stand by these workers and do whatever is necessary.