Tuesday 20 August, 2019

PM to trade unions: Recognise economic realities

Members of the trade union movement staged a mass demonstration on Friday. Photo: The Oilfields Workers Trade Union

Members of the trade union movement staged a mass demonstration on Friday. Photo: The Oilfields Workers Trade Union

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has responded to concerns raised by trade unions during their march through Port of Spain on Friday.

In a statement, Rowley called on the labour movement to acknowledge the harsh economic realities facing the country and not resort to “threats, bombast, finger pointing and insults.”

He said the government is mindful of the stresses and strains exerted on the population especially those faced with loss of jobs and inadequate income.

But Rowley said these unfortunate circumstances are as a result of very significant oil and gas revenues and the government must act responsibly and try to do more with less.

“It is against this background that the Government has been resolute in trying to maintain, as far as we are able to, employment levels in the public sector and to keep a large social support programme in place, funded from the severely depleted revenues,” he said.

Rowley called on the labour movement to return to the tripartite approach – a collaborative platform of discussion and dialogue between the government, labour and the business sector.

“This Tripartite, civil approach through the genuine efforts of this body, should provide the most meaningful forum to address the myriad challenges which all parties must face as we seek to overcome and survive the current economic crisis to which we have been exposed since 2015 and which is very likely to remain a factor in our circumstances well into the medium term.”

Rowley said the government has a responsibility for the entire population and “would hope that the workers representatives would acknowledge the reality and outcomes of our straitened circumstances and return to the Tripartite approach enabled by the Government, rather than rely on threats, bombast, finger pointing and insults, since these invectives would do little to assist us in treating with the harsh realities of our current circumstances as a nation in the midst of an economic downturn which is driven largely by our location in external markets beyond our control.”

He said Trinidad and Tobago would have the best chance at overcoming economic pressures if the burden is equitably shared by all.

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