Not just a book but an invitation to join the Goodwill
Revolution against an unfair, unjust and deceptive system that
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by Donna Hemans ... $16.10
---------------For the Life of Laetitia by Trinidad -born Merle Hodge Price: $10.54
a wonderful book about a young girl in the Carribean, the first of her family to go to secondary school.
Hail Roger Toussaint!
Trinidad and Tobago and all the Caribbean should be especially proud of Roger Toussaint. The Trinidadian-born leader of the New York city’s Transport Workers' Union's (TWU) 34,000 members, "held strain" unflinchingly against some powerful forces and prevailed.
The TWU and the New York State-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) engaged in dispute over wage rises, health-care and pension costs and the retirement age of employees. The union argued that cutbacks in benefits were unnecessary as the mass transit system had a one billion dollar surplus. By the time the MTA made its ‘final’ offer, agreement had been reached on everything except pensions. In this ‘final’ offer existing workers would essentially keep their pension benefits but for new workers pensions would be gutted. Of course, this is a popular strategy by companies to get existing workers to betray new workers who are not yet union members. This tactic has worked very well too as many good jobs in the past have used this to dismember benefits.
So why should the union care about workers yet unhired and yet to be union members? But the TWU unselfishly did care and refused to concede this and threatened strike instead.
As the strike deadline drew near, Roger Toussaint faced all sorts of pressure to give in. But he held strain and the strike was called. So with Christmas only days away, New York city virtually ground to a halt as subways and bus service shut down. Millions of New Yorkers had to walk, cycle or share cars to get to work.
Republicans already are sworn enemies of unions, so it was no surprise when the Republican billionaire mayor of New York City, Mike Bloomburg, and the Republican Governor of the state of New York, George Pataki, denounced Toussaint. Mayor Bloomburg even insultingly accused Toussaint of "thuggish" behavior. In addition:
But despite those formidable odds, the strike ended after 54 hours. Roger Toussaint won. The transit workers of New York won. The New York Times described it as a victory for the union on many fronts. After the dust of the settlement cleared, a contract emerged which included:
To be sure, the union also made compromises. But they earned respect and grabbed a victory at a time when unions are being battered by loss in membership as they helplessly see company after company send good American jobs overseas to be done by near slave-wages-employees. Congratulations Roger Toussaint!
Reneto Adams and other cops found "Not Guilty"
Jamaica’s ‘trial of the century’ is over. Senior Superintendent of police Reneto Adams and two other policemen charged with the 2003 killing of four persons in Kraal, Clarendon have been found "not guilty" on all four counts of non-capital murder. The 12-man jury deliberated for five hours and thirty five minutes in the celebrated trial. A week earlier, three other cops involved had been freed when the judge upheld no-case submissions on their behalf.
SSP Adams was the head of the special Crime management Unit (CMU) when he and five other CMU policemen engaged in a shootout in Kraal, Clarendon during a police raid on May 7,2003. Four residents were killed by the police. The police say they were fired on and returned fire killing the four. But prosecutors argued that the policemen, led by SSP Adams, killed the four deliberately and in cold blood and attempted to cover up their crime.
Residents of the area and human rights lobbyists disputed the police reports resulting in a high level probe involving local and overseas investigators. Fifty-three witnesses gave evidence during the trial.
The verdict did not seem to heal the great divisions in the island about the incident. Heated debate continued with many expressing great disappointment at the outcome. On the other hand, the controversial SSP Adams was mobbed by a raucous crowd of jubilant supporters as he left the courtroom.
2006 is a new year but it also marks the debut of the CARICOM Single Market (CSM). It has taken 15 years and still only six of the 15 CARICOM member states are currently involved in the process. Jamaica Prime Minister signed on just before the new year. The other 5 countries who have signed on are Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Guyana, Belize and Suriname.
There will be free movement of (some) persons, goods and services across regional borders. But obstacles do exist. Already, figures from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) show that imports from other CARICOM countries value nearly US$562 million, with Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, St. Lucia and Guyana among Jamaica’s top CARICOM importers. Trinidad alone accounts for nearly three quarters of imported products from CARICOM, surmounting US$482 million dollars in value.
However, Jamaica’s trade with CARICOM is very adverse. Imports from
CARICOM far outweigh Jamaica’s exports to these countries. In fact, the
value of imports from CARICOM is up to 10 times more than exports. Last
year, Jamaica earned nearly US$52 million from exports to CARICOM, while
imports from those countries were $562 million.
Antigua & Barbuda to hold CCJ referendum
The CARICOM Single Market is taking shape but the Caribbean Court of
Justice (CCJ) is stumbling along. The latest - Antigua and Barbuda is to
hold a referendum to determine its position with regards to the court. The
CCJ, which was launched earlier this year, replaces the London-based Privy
Council as the region's highest court.
While most of the Caribbean states have signed on to the CCJ in its original jurisdiction, only Barbados and Guyana have so far signed on to its appellate jurisdiction and debate over referendum wages fiercely in other countries.
Lowest ever unemployment rates for Barbados
Barbados has recorded its lowest ever unemployment figures, according
to the research and planning unit of the ministry of economic affairs. The
unemployment figure stood at 8.5 per cent during the third quarter of
2005, down from the previously lowest figure of 9.9 per cent recorded
during the similar period last year.
Cement company struggles to fill need
Both Trinidad and Jamaica are struggling to have their cement needs filled. The Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) which also owns its counterpart Caribbean Cement in Jamaica, has vowed to increase production to meet the demands of both Trinidad and Jamaica. The assurance was given this week by TCL's Chief Executive Officer, Dr Rollin Bertrand. However, Dr. Bertrand says the company does not intend to raise prices despite the current shortage. Bertrand said to satisfy the T&Tl market production level has be 80,000 tonnes an hour.
He explained that the cement shortage occurred because TCL was engaged
in connecting the new 18 million US dollar upgrade to existing facilities.
The new plant was commissioned on November 28, after a three week shut
CARICOM acknowledges Cuban friendship
Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders began their second joint summit with Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Barbados with the main purpose of strengthening ties between them. They began with a call for the United States to end its 45-year-old blockade of that nation.
Caricom's chairman, St. Lucian Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony, said
the embargo was "blatantly inconsistent with international trading
norms" and urged Washington to engage in dialogue with the Cuban
ULP wins again in St. Vincent general elections
Dr. Ralph Gonzalves’ Unity Labour Party won another resounding victory in St. Vincent’s general election on December 7, 2005. It recaptured the 12 electoral seats it went into the election with. The Opposition New Democratic Party retained its three seats in the 15 seat House of Representatives.
Honduran fishermen arrested in Jamaican waters again
They are back. Once again Jamaican waters must have special
appeal for Honduran fishermen. One hundred and fifteen of these fishermen
were arrested, pleaded guilty to illegal fishing charges and were fined.
They were returned by Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard boat to the
Honduran border. Their fishing boat, which was forfeited by local court,
remains the property of the Jamaican government.
Jamaica erects Merlene Ottey statue
Jamaica has erected a statue of the seven-time Olympian, Merlene Ottey, at the new statue park at Independence Park just outside the National Stadium in Kingston. Jamaica’s greatest female sprinter, the evergreen Ottey, first represented Jamaica at the Olympic Games in Moscow 25 years ago. The last time she ran in Jamaican colours was at the 2000 games in Sydney before competing for Slovenia at the Athens games last year.
Her many achievements include:
Antigua owes millions to regional and int'l institutions
Antigua Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer has revealed that the country
owes regional and international institutions EC$56 million dollars for
years of unpaid subscriptions and dues. The list is very long. Mr. Spencer
says the money is owed to organisations such as the Caribbean Community (Caricom),
the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States secretariat (OECS); the
Caribbean Development Bank; the University of the West Indies; the United
Nations; the Commonwealth Secretariat; the World Health Organization; and
the European Investment Bank.
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