Thursday, May 11, 2006

Call to wear red in protest of high food prices

by Annalisa Paul
Trinidad Express
May 11, 2006

The Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FITUN) has called on members of the public to wear red tomorrow to demonstrate their disgust with rising food prices which the group says are threatening to place hundreds of families on the breadline.

Speaking with reporters at a press conference at the Queen's Park Savannah opposite Whitehall yesterday, FITUN president David Abdulah urged people to come out in support of the call.

"Wear red and give the mothers of the nation a Mother's Day present," Abdulah said, adding that "mothers everywhere are in pain when they visit the grocery and market as they struggle to balance the food budget...agonising over what they can and cannot afford".

Armed with two empty pots and placards calling for a reduction in food prices, Abdulah said the pots signified what many families were experiencing as they sometimes have little or no food due to the outrageous prices of food items.

Saying that yesterday's demonstration was "just another step further in the campaign against high food prices", Abdulah estimated that in the last two years, food prices had increased by almost 50 per cent.

Minimum wage earners, estimated to be about 30 (or more) per cent of the workforce, have been feeling the pinch for some time now, Abdulah said, adding that fixed income earners- including the elderly and pensioners-"were having their incomes eroded by higher food prices".

Faced with higher food prices, Abdulah said people may begin cutting back on certain food items which means that their children may be robbed of "an adequate and decent diet for the week or month ahead".

Recalling Prime Minister's Patrick Manning's promise of reduced prices on a wide range of food items in his 2005/2006 budget speech, Abdulah said more than six months have elapsed and nothing has been done.

Telling people that Government needed to get serious and stop importing billions of dollars worth of food items every year, Abdulah said unless there was stronger domestic agriculture which would be subsidised to the population, then there would always be a problem with the price of food.


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