The T&T Scrap Iron Dealers’ Association (TTSIDA) and Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) are distancing themselves from a protest on Monday morning which blocked the northbound lane of the Solomon Hochoy Highway, stranding thousands in traffic for hours.
Shortly after the action, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley accused the trade unions and opposition of being conspirators.
“So they have made their move. Dump truckloads of sand and debris on both sides of the highway and block traffic! What a wonderful idea of leadership from Roget and the followers including the UNC! The marauding gangs of metal thieves threatened to, but did not complete the job of shutting down the country, so the leaders are helping them to get that done,” he said on his Facebook page.
However, speaking at a press conference on Monday, JTUM representative Timothy Bailey distanced the union from the event.
“Our position is very clear. We condemn those allegations made. What we have seen this morning is an emotional and reactive response by individuals who are hurting. We understand it as trade union leaders,” he said.
He also asked the Prime Minister to refrain from making such accusations.
“We would ask that the Honourable Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago take a responsible position. Not one that is emotional, not one that is wreckless, not one that is reactive and not one that is irresponsible by basically including and tarnishing the name of the leader of the Joint Trade Union Movement of Trinidad and Tobago and the trade union movement,” he said.
TTSIDA president, Allan Ferguson also condemned the action and distanced his association from any involvement in the protest that has undoubtedly added fuel to the already growing negative perceptions of the industry by many. He said he does not support any action to shut down the country or will join hands with any other aggrieved entities to do it as the Prime Minister claims.
“When I organise anything, I organise for it to be peaceful. Motorcade. When I organise anything it have to be peaceful. I don’t have no evilness in my mind like other people. I have an industry to fight for,” he said.
On August 15, Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, announced there would be a six month ban on the exportation of scrap iron from this country, as the Government moved to regulate the industry.