Monday 28 September, 2020

Labour Minister Stephen McClashie: Changes are coming

Photo: Minister of Labour, Stephen McClashie

Photo: Minister of Labour, Stephen McClashie

Labour Minister and La Brea MP, Stephen McClashie, said changes are coming to the labour sector in Trinidad and Tobago.

Speaking following Cabinet's swearing-in ceremony on August 19, McClashie said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, changes would have to be made:

'We have embarked in a place and space where work is changing. How we work and how we do things in a pandemic will dictate to us, maybe, a lot of our terms and conditions of employment.'

'These are very grey areas that as we move forward we will have to entreat with.'

He also warned of upcoming trade negotiations which he said may be challenging:

'There are also some issues that I know will be difficult with regard to some trade negotiations that are coming up. Given the way we have to work, we will have several challenges with reaching at some safe spaces.'

He said moving forward in the current uncertain economic conditions, it is imperative to develop Small and Medium-sized Enterprises:

'But what I would like to do over the next few years is really focus on the SMEs and the development of SMEs because hand in hand with labour, the way we look at work is changing.'

'Nobody has a job waiting for anybody and therefore we have to encourage SMEs to develop, create the impetus and resources for young, budding entrepreneurs to really get out there and maybe start a lot of small businesses.'

'It's changing and we cannot use old paradigms and expect that things will somehow work themselves out. We have to be proactive, we have to identify people with skillsets and prepare them to take their place in the economy.'

McClashie said in thie regard, training is needed for these new skillsets.

'We will have to look at skillsets and how we develop those skillsets, and work with other ministries in determining how we get there.'

Regarding allegations of worker exploitation due to the pandemic, McClashie said balance is needed in viewing the situation:

'We will have to look at it and balance because depending on who you speak to, you'll get a different vantage point. It's a negotiation thing and we have to work in good faith, so we we can't start by assuming one party is working in bad faith.'

McClashie is Member of Parliament for La Brea and served as senior manager, Supply Chain Management, at the National Gas Company.

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