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CWU: PM PLAYING SMART WITH FOOLISHNESS

posted 22 Mar 2017, 05:28 by Gerry Kangalee
The following statement was issued by the Secretary General of the Communication Workers' Union, Comrade Joseph Remy on March 17th 2017

The Communication Workers' Union has carefully noted the statements of the Honourable Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley relative to the Government’s decision to dissolve the Tourism Development Company, TDC, which decision has now placed the jobs of some one hundred and fifteen (115) committed professional workers in jeopardy and has brought about the consequential social and economic challenges for their families.

The Prime Minister has stated that he leads the Cabinet which took the decision to close the TDC and to call on him to fire the Minister because the Minister did it is not to understand what is happening. The Prime Minister also stated that the decision to close the company was not made ’out—of-the-blue". Therefore, the Prime Minister as the head of the Cabinet must take full responsibility for any decision that his Government makes.

The Prime Minister made these statements in response to the Union's call for the removal of the Minister of Tourism for her disrespect to the TDC workers, the CWU and the Trade Union Movement after she made a phone call to the head of the Union almost at the same time that she was preparing to make the public announcement, at the weekly Post- Cabinet Media briefing, that the Government's decided to dissolve the TDC.

The Union would continue to state the irrefutable fact that the Minister NEVER CONSULTED with the CWU as the legitimate RMU for those TDC workers before she proceeded to make a public statement misleading the nation by saying that she held discussions with the President of the Union before the announcement was made, giving the impression that there was prior consultation before the decision was made.

We wish to posit that the Prime Minister, as the head of the Cabinet, must accept full responsibility for this faux-pas and act of disrespect. As such, the CWU is now holding the Prime Minister fully responsible for the mayhem that the Government has created for these workers, who are loyal, dedicated and patriotic citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

We are holding the Prime Minister responsible for one of the most blatant breaches of the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act, Section 40, which mandates that the employer is duty bound to meet and treat in good faith with any Union which has Recognized Majority Union Status in an Organization/Enterprise; we are holding the Prime Minister responsible for knowing all along, since June 2016, as he stated, that there was a report which recommended that the TDC be dissolved but this information was not communicated to the CWU as the Recognized Majority

Union at the TDC neither were they invited to meet and treat in good faith.

We would like to ask whether the Prime Minister consulted with two (2) former Trade Union Leaders who now sit in his Cabinet and who would be engrossed with the knowledge that Section 40 of the IRA mandates a particular approach to deal with situations like this. In addition, the Prime Minister could have called on his Minister in his Office who has a wealth of knowledge in such matters in his former incarnation practising before the Industrial Court. We are convinced that the Cabinet had the requisite resources available to advise and guide them through this process.

We are really left to wonder, who provided leadership to the neophyte Minister of Tourism to advise and/or instruct her to commit such a fundamental breach of the IRA and of good and proper Industrial Relations Practices.

Every time one of the Cabinet Ministers speak on this issue, the more we are left to believe that this was a deliberate act of disrespect for the Trade Union Movement, and as such, the entire Movement was well within its right to suspend its participation in the National Tripartite Advisory Council until this misdemeanour and fundamental breach are addressed. Contrary to the Prime Minister’s recent statement, we wish to remind him that with much pomp and fanfare, the NTAC was launched by him and there was an expressed mandate for the NTAC to be proactive and deal with critical issues that would have brought stability to the Industrial Relations Environment in the country.

The decision to dissolve the TDC is one such issue. It is curious that the Prime Minister made reference to some report in the Chamber of Commerce newsletter, the "Contact”, about $200M wastage at the TDC, as the Chamber is only one partner in the Tripartite process. This sounds like a case of  “who pays the piper calls the tune".

Finally, we wish to correct the Prime Minister and advise him that this is not the first instance of a problem relative to Non-Consultation with the Labour Representatives on the NTAC before a critical decision was announced publicly. We would never forget the Minister of Finance's public utterances at an IMF function where he made the snide and discourteous public announcement about the famous 0% x 0% x 0% Wage offer to Public Sector workers.

As such, we are convinced more than ever that these statements were clearly articulated by the Prime Minister to “Play Smart with foolishness”. The CWU made a public commitment to "Communicate the Truth" and that we vow to continue to do.

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