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FITUN DEMANDS CONSULATATION ON IRA AMENDMENT BILL

posted 8 May 2015, 21:17 by Gerry Kangalee

On May 8th 2015 the following statement was issued by Joseph Remy, President of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs:

The Federation of Independent Trade Unions and Non-Governmental Organizations, FITUN, would like to express its grave concerns with respect to the Bill that was laid in the House of Representatives on Friday 1st May, 2015, by the Minister of Labour, Small and Micro Enterprise Development, to amend the existing Industrial Relations Act, the IRA.

Our preliminary review of the provisions contained within this Bill sends some very worrying signals to FITUN and by extension all Trade Unions within its fold. While we have not had the opportunity to do an in-depth analysis of the entire Bill, we have observed and carefully noted "Part VA" of the Bill whose heading;

 "CANCELLATION OF CERTIFICATE OF RECOGNITION AND OTHER SANCTIONS FOR FAILURE TO REPRESENT A MEMBER OR WORKER",

is of major concern to us. The provisions contained within this Part, makes it mandatory for a Trade Union to represent a worker, even though that worker refuses to join the Union and pay Union Dues. In essence, this effectively says to workers that they don't have to be a dues paying member of a Union to be given representation by the Recognized Majority Union. We see this as strangling and choking the Unions ability to operate and give effective representation to all its members.

In addition to this provision, "Part VA", gives those same non members of the Union the right to Petition the Industrial Court to seek to have the Trade Union's Certificate of Recognition cancelled if they feel that as non-members, they were not given effective representation.

These new provisions are diametrically opposed to the positions adopted in recent public statements made by the Minister of Labour, Small and Micro Enterprise Development, who, albeit wrongfully, alluded to his Government’s efforts to save three (3) Unions from the threat of the Cancellation of their Certificate of Recognition in 2010, when in fact the attempt to cancel the Certificate of Recognition of those Trade Unions was made in 2009.

In addition, they are totally opposed to the recommendations of the Workers Agenda of 2010.

FITUN has also observed that there are other provisions contained within this Bill which are aimed directly at the heart of the Trade Union Movement. Once again, just as happened when the Industrial Stabilization Act and subsequently the Industrial Relations Acts were enacted, we are seeing an obscene act of collusion between the Government, the Employer Class and Big Business, in collaboration with those reactionary and backward elements of the Trade Union Movement to curtail the progressive march of the Independent Trade Unions. 

These provisions, if allowed to become Law, will see the wanton exploitation of workers and the entrenchment of Contract Work in Trinidad and Tobago. Workers would be left more defenceless against the rampaging exploits of unscrupulous Employers who would use every opportunity to exploit and victimize workers’ and disenfranchise the work place democracy that was engendered by the progressive Trade Union Movement.

What is quite disturbing is the fact that as a Federation, we were not consulted on this Draft Bill before it was laid in Parliament. Oh what a shame on those who are supposed to know better! It is also a crying shame that these draconian provisions are perpetrated on workers by those who cosmetically cloaked themselves in the robes of Trade Unionism in the past, but now that they have tasted the seductive cocktail of state power, they have brazenly stripped themselves naked and have exposed their selfishness, greed and treacherous tendencies.

FITUN is calling on all right thinking Trade Unionist to take a stand against this attack on the Trade Union Movement. We demand that this Bill be withdrawn from the Parliament and the Trade Union Movement be allowed the opportunity to examine its provisions, thereafter there must be a period of genuine consultation between all affected parties and interest groups to arrive at a way forward for any amendment to the Industrial Relations Act. We commit to mobilize all workers to mount a strong challenge against this anti-worker and anti-Trade Union Bill.

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