Labour Minister breaks silence on terminations
Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus has broken her silence on recent terminations.
It comes after former Minister Devant Maharaj urged retrenched and unemployed workers to contact the Labour Minister directly via her cell phone number.
In a statement on Friday, Minister Baptiste-Primus said she empathizes with the hardships being experienced by some citizens whose services have been terminated at one time or the other for reasons of redundancy, insolvency or receivership.
However, the Labour Minister said in keeping with the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act Chapter 88:01, it is incumbent upon the Minister and the Ministry to maintain neutrality in the discharge of its responsibilities.
She said in the current matters which are attracting public attention, the Communications Workers’ Union by letters dated November 28, November 30 and December 4 reported three trade disputes to the Minister with respect to the retrenchment of 502 workers.
The Minister said these disputes were duly acknowledged and a Conciliation Meeting was fixed for today, December 14 at 10 am at the Ministry’s Conciliation Unit,
She added that in the other matters, the Oilfields Workers’ Union reported 62 trade disputes with the Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago to the Minister on November 30, with respect to the retrenchment of workers in all six bargaining units.
Minister Baptiste-Primus said as a consequence, it is incumbent upon the Minister to refrain from speaking out prematurely on any of these issues lest the Minister run the risk of being accused of displaying bias or of being accused of misbehaviour in public office.
She therefore urged all parties to act with restraint and to respect the spirit, intent and tenets of Collective Agreements and exhaust all efforts to resolve disputes in the best interest of all involved.