- Workers’ organizations in Trinidad and Tobago call for improved safety legislation
The death of four workers in an accident during repair work to a ship in late
June brought the number of people in Trinidad who have died on the job this
year to 13.
The country’s trade union movement, that has been campaigning for many years
for new safety legislation, is now increasing its criticism of the Patrick
Manning government for failing to sign into law an Occupational Safety and Health
Act (OSHA), even though it was approved by parliament in February 2004.
David Abdullah, president of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and
NGOs, says the new legislation creates an oversight body that would have much
more power than the existing Factories Inspectorate.
The National Trade Union Centre (NATUC), an umbrella grouping of the various
labour bodies, blames lobbying by some businesses for the delay in passing the
legislation. Vincent Cabrera, NATUC’s general secretary, told a recent news
conference, "The trade union movement is going to continue to push for the
implementation of that act and you are going to be hearing more and more from us
on that question in the near future."
Errol McLeod, president of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU), the
island’s biggest union, has accused the government of lacking the courage to pass
the legislation, which he said would protect working people and industry.
- Cuban women demand representation
According to the 2000 national census, there are 5.5 million women in Cuba,
approximately half of the population. However, although the 1959 Revolution
granted women full social equality and a greater participatory role, Cuban women
still find themselves under-represented in political life. Women make up 44
percent of the labor force, but only represent 20 percent of the National
Assembly of Popular Power (legislature).
"We Cuban women are almost half of the population, so I consider that our
presence in directive bodies such as parliament should be greater," said Esther
Santos, a young lawyer.
Cuban women face a deeply-rooted male chauvinist culture, and, as a result,
are experiencing their own, self-imposed limitations.
"There are women who are strongly influenced by our society’s machista
culture, and refuse to participate in political life because they see it as a man’s
job," said Alba Martànez, a government employee.
The majority of Cuban women are grouped in the Cuban Women’s Federation
(FMC), headed by Vilma Espàn, a veteran collaborator of President Fidel Castro and
wife of his brother Raúl, the country’s second-in-command. Founded in 1960
with the objective of incorporating women into society and the workplace, the
organization heads various community projects that focus on gender equality.
Critics of the Castro administration disapprove of the FMC’s pro-government stance.
Source: Latinamerica Press
- CARICOM reviewing Haiti’s suspension
Haiti’s Foreign Minister, Hérard Abraham, diplomatic initiative to review his
country’s relations with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) continued when he
traveled to Nassau, the Bahamas, on 26 August. He held talks with the Bahamian
Foreign Minister, Fred Mitchell, who is currently the Chairman of the CARICOM
Council of Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR).
Haiti has been suspended from all the councils of CARICOM since the demise of
the Lavalas Family government in late February 2004. Since then, CARICOM
states have remain divided on whether to recognize the interim Alexandre/Latortue
Abraham who in April visited Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados, for similar
talks, is hopeful that full ties will be restored. Mitchell described the talks
as being crucial for both Haiti and CARICOM.
Meanwhile, on 29 August, during an official visit to Chile, Jamaica’s Prime
Minister P.J. Patterson said that Haiti’s elections scheduled for November and
December could help Haiti rejoin CARICOM. Patterson stressed it was important
the elections take place in a secure atmosphere, ensuring everybody’s right to
vote and included the participation of international observers. He also said
he believed that all political parties, including the Lavalas Family, should
be allowed to participate.
- Calls for Guyana government to ensure safety of media workers
The Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers (ACM) is calling on the government
of Guyana to do all in its power to protect media workers from acts of
aggression and violent retribution from individuals or groups implicated in their
reports. The call, issued on 29 August, came after journalists were assaulted,
gunfire was directed at a vehicle transporting media workers, and others were
assaulted and robbed at their workplace in the capital, Georgetown.
The ACM press release stated, "In an era when Caribbean media workers are
coming under increasing pressure, we urge regional governments to continue to
demonstrate their unwavering commitment to democratic traditions and the rule of
law. Flagrant attacks on the media undermine the very freedoms we have earned
and now enjoy. They must be stopped."