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FITUN: APPOINT RECOGNITION BOARD NOW!

posted 23 Feb 2015, 18:05 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 23 Feb 2015, 18:06 ]
On February 20th 2015, Joseph Remy, President of the Federation of Trade Unions and NGOs wrote the following letter to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar:
I write to you in your capacity as the Leader of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, in particular in your role as Head of the Cabinet of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. It is my understanding that in those capacities, you have ultimate responsibility for the conduct of the Government and the Cabinet of the Country and as such, takes charge of major decisions that impact on the lives of the citizens of the Country.

Honourable Prime Minister, in the circumstances, I wish to bring to your attention a matter that has been causing serious unease and disbelief within the Trade Union Movement. It relates to the protracted and inordinate delay by the Line Minister in appointing persons to serve as members on the Registration, Recognition and Certification Board of Trinidad and Tobago.

Under the provision of Part II, Section 21 of the Industrial Relations Act Chapter 88:01 Act 23 of 1972, (the IRA), a Board to be known as the Registration Recognition and Certification Board is hereby established. Section 21 (3) of the IRA specifically states that:

Subject to this Part, the Minister shall appoint the Chairman and other members of the Board as follows:

(a) In the case of the Chairman, a fit and proper person selected by the President of Trinidad and Tobago after consultation with such organisations or other bodies of persons as in his opinion are the most representative of workers, employers; and

(b) In the case of the other members of the Board —

i Three members, being persons nominated by such organisations or other bodies of persons as in the opinion of the Minister are the most representative of workers;

ii Three members, being persons nominated by such organisations or other bodies of persons as in the opinion of the Minister are the most representative of employers; and

iii. Two members, being persons jointly nominated by the organisations or other bodies of persons referred to in subparagraphs (i) and (ii)

Honourable Prime Minister, since January I0, 2014, the country has not been able to benefit from the services of a Registration, Recognition and Certification Board. This situation was brought to the attention of the Minister charged with the responsibility to so appoint such a Board, to no avail. The Trade Union Movement even engaged in Protest Demonstrations outside the precincts of the Industrial Court and outside the offices of the Line Minister to highlight their dissatisfaction about the absence of a Board.

This was followed by several Letters and Press Statements crying out for the appointment of members to serve on this critically important Board. All the pleas of the Labour Movement have so far fallen on deaf and uncaring ears.

For the avoidance of doubt about the importance of this Board Madam Prime Minister Section 23 (I) of the Industrial Relations Act outlines the responsibility of the Board as follows:

(a) The determination of all applications, petitions and matters concerning certification of recognition under Part III, including the taking of preferential ballots under section 34(2);

(b) The certification of recognised majority unions;

(c) The recording of certification of recognised majority unions in a book to be kept by it for the purpose;

(d) The making of agency shop orders under Part IV and the conduct of ballots and proceedings in connection therewith;

(e) The cancellation of certification of recognition of trade unions; and

(f) Such other matters as referred or assigned to it by the Minister or under this or any written law.

In addition to these responsibilities as stated above, under Part III, Section 32 (1) of the IRA, the Board is charged with the responsibility to expeditiously determine all applications for certification brought before it. Under Section 33 of the IRA, the Board is charged with the responsibility of determining the appropriateness of a Bargaining Unit based on an application submitted by a Trade Union; and under Section 34 of the IRA, the Board is charged with the responsibility to determine whether a worker is considered to be "a member in good standing".

Madam Prime Minister, these responsibilities are critical to the conduct of the work of a Trade Union. In the absence of a Board, critical matters relative to the above stated responsibilities have gone unattended to the detriment of workers., in particular workers who does not fall under the ambit of a Bargaining Unit. This is a fundamental pillar around which Trade Unions are supposed to organise the unorganized workers and to make representation for and on behalf of those marginalized and disenfranchised workers who are left to the mercy of some unscrupulous employers.

Honourable Prime Minister, FITUN recalls the pointed statement contained within the Manifesto of the People’s Partnership in 2010: "W0rkers at the Centre; Working to Build a Productive Nation’. The Manifesto went on to state that the Partnership will partner with Labour Unions to work beyond the frontiers of traditional collective bargaining, and, one matter that will be urgently addressed is the enforcement and protection of the right of workers to join a Trade Union of their choice.

It is apparent that your Government has departed profoundly away from those stated objectives and ideals. What has FITUN most disturbed however, is the fact that the Minister charged with the responsibility as outlined in the IRA is someone who was a fierce defender and advocate of the right of workers to join a Trade Union of their choice and be given the benefit of proper Trade Union Representation. We speak specifically about the current Minister of Labour, Small and Micro Enterprise Development, Mr. Errol McLeod.

Honourable Prime Minister, in addition to the Minister of Labour, there are other former and current Labour Leaders within the fold of your Government in the persons of Minister in the Ministry of Finance and the Economy, Mr. Rudrinath Indarsingh and the Vice-President of the Senate, Mr. James Lambert. The presence of these persons and the abject silence from them regarding such a fundamental issue for the Trade Union Movement is a major contradiction, but it is not surprising, since leopards can and do change their spots according to the situation that they are faced with and the prey that they are required to pounce upon.

In this case, the unsuspecting thousands of un-organised workers who are crying out for legitimacy in their representation are the victims and prey for the changing spots of those leopards.

Honourable Prime Minister, FITUN now call on you as the person with the ultimate responsibility for the Governance of the country, to take the necessary steps to ensure that members are immediately appointed to the Registration, Recognition and Certification Board, so that workers in Trinidad and Tobago can be given their constitutional right of freedom of association and be afforded the opportunity to be saved from the ravages of those uncaring employers who continues to exploit every ounce of productive capacity from their bodies and souls.

FITUN anticipates your urgent intervention to have the legislated persons appointed to the Registration, Recognition and Certification Board so that Trade Unions and the workers they represent could be given the opportunity to have their matters ventilated and addressed by the Registration, Recognition and Certification Board in accordance with the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act 1972 as amended, all in the interest of good governance.

 

 

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