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Cabrera Says Good Riddance To Outmoded Labour Law

posted 30 Apr 2012, 13:39 by Gerry Kangalee


The Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union wishes to publicly congratulate the Honourable Minister of Labour Errol McLeod, for reason of the passage of legislation at the most recent parliamentary session which repealed the Masters and Servants Ordinance. It is significant that this outdated and oppressive item of labour legislation has been repealed.

Although it can be argued that the body of labour law which existed in the country since the passage of the Industrial Stabilisation Act of 1965 and the Industrial Relations Act of 1972, had already superseded the common law as it applies to workers, the fact that this offensive legislation was not repealed despite attainment of national independence since 1962 speaks volumes for the nature of industrial relations in Trinidad and Tobago.

From a psychological and sociological perspective, the last vestiges of the master-servant relationship has now been removed and replaced by the employer-employee relationship. On the eve of May Day 2012, we urge the Minister to lay more Bills in the parliament in order to establish a fair balance pertaining to labour law in the country.

We have always maintained that our local labour legislation is ninety-nine percent pro employer and one percent neutral. In this context, it is quite refreshing that the Masters and Servants Ordinance no longer exists.

It is useful and appropriate to note that too many employers continue to treat employees as if they were indeed their servants. Evidence of this phenomenon exists in the widespread practice of workplace bullying particularly in the Supermarket sector. In addition to workplace bullying of which there are many reports made to the BIGWU, the application of minimum wage and other labour standards are routinely violated by employers who own Supermarkets.

Evidently, too many employers are not aware of the many studies that have been conducted which show that eradication of workplace bullying, ensuring dignity of workers at the workplace and adequate training funded by employers result in higher levels of returns and labour productivity. Wherever employers treat workers as if they were their servants, there is a contradiction of the principles of the decent work policy, as promoted by the International Labour Organisation and supported by the government of Trinidad and Tobago.

Vincent Cabrera