No agreement reached between Trade Union Federations and PM
Joint Trade Union Leader (JTUM) Ancel Roget (left), Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (right).
After numerous appeals to meet with the Prime Minister to discuss the issues affecting the people of Trinidad and Tobago, the National Trade Union Federations got their request, however, they left the meeting deeply disappointed.
Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) Leader Ancel Roget spoke with media following the meeting which he said left him, along with the other Union leaders ‘unsatisfied.’
“After all of the discussions, we are not yet satisfied that we have reached a point where we can rejoin the Tripartite arrangements and discussions so we have laid before the Prime Minister, a number of issues which were captured in the letter to the Prime Minister, all of those issues which go way beyond the boundaries of collective bargaining. It is our deepest concern to have those issues treated with,” Roget said.
According to the JTUM Leader, issues raised included the violation of the Memorandum of Understanding signed on August 27, 2015 between the Trade Unions and the Government and the Unions' decision to depart from the National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC).
He said calls were also made for a moratorium on the retrenchment of workers as only then would the Unions rejoin NTAC.
“We call for a restructuring of NTAC and to reset the clock. We call for a moratorium on retrenchment, and that if we are to return to NTAC and continue to contribute where everybody can benefit, even the employers and the business community, we call for a moratorium on retrenchment.”
Roget further noted that concerns were raised about crime, retirees not receiving their pension and the productivity of workers across Trinidad and Tobago. He said as it relates to workers' producivity, the restructuring of the National Productivity Council is necessary to treat the issue.
"We are not happy with the current levels of productivity in the country but productivity is not for the workers alone, it is for total factor productivity which has to do with all of the systems of productivity. We ought to have a proper mechanism in place to replace that National Productivity Council which we see has been very dysfunctional at this point in time," he said.
Prime Minister's response
The JTUM leader said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley openly disagreed with a number of the Trade Union's requests and denied the suggestion to have a moratorium on the retrenchment of workers.
“Well, he did not agree with that but we did not agree with him not agreeing with that either because we feel that we will continue to be bearing the brunt of the burden of adjustment by virtue of - if we are in discussions with employers and the Government, talking about the equitable sharing of the burden of adjustment but at the same time you continue to send workers home, we feel that it will be a travesty to the process if we continue to discuss and therefore we said quite emphatically, I want to repeat, that we will not be returning to NTAC until we feel that our issues are being treated with in a most meaningful manner. He did listen,” Roget noted.
He also noted that Dr Rowley agreed to the restructuring of NTAC.
Roget slams "anti-worker" daily Newspaper
The JTUM leader also accused the Trinidad Guardian Newspaper of sending home workers as a means of reprisal to the JTUM who represents workers within the organization. He said the Union is free to make statements and further criticized the organization which he accused of attempting to censor free speech in T&T.
"Nobody, no two by four, small, petty, little, house slave that is an Editor will censor the Trade Union Movement or tell us what we should say or when we should say it. As Trade Unionists we have a right to speak, as they have a right to write and we will speak as long as we choose to exercise that right and that will be for a long time to come. So we condemn the approach of the Guardian Media Limited by sending workers home and trying to penalize a particular trade union, the Banking and Insurance General Workers [Trade] Union, for speaking out and supporting us in a position that we've taken against the 1%"