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posted 5 Jan 2017, 12:30 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 5 Jan 2017, 12:32 ]

Joseph Remy - President of FITUN
The Federation of Independent Trade Unions and Non-Governmental Organizations, FITUN, would like to publicly express its solidarity with the OWTU in its current struggle with PETROTRIN and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago relative to its outstanding wage negotiations for the periods 2011-2014 and 2014 to 2017.

In the face of public concern about the impending Strike Notice as pronounced by the Union, the Federation would like to condemn the mis-information and inconsistent statements emanating from the Government about PETROTRlN’S obscene offer to the Union. In one breath we heard from the new Government’s mouthpiece, Minister, Stuart Young that there was no directive given to the PETROTRIN Management to make an offer of "0% x 0% x 0%" for the both periods.

While we also heard from the Finance Minister that no State Body, in particular, a fully owned State Entity, has any authority to make any offer on wage Negotiations without the expressed directions of the inter Ministerial Negotiating Committee.

If we are to believe Minister Young, then it is obvious that the PETROTRIN Board breached their authority by making on offer without being authorized, but on the other hand,if we are to take Minister lmbert’s statement in context, then it can be deduced that the PETROTRIN Board acted consistent with the clear public mandate given by the Finance Minister when he stated that the Government’s offer to Trade Unions would be 0% x 0% x 0%.

It is either the Board acted with the mandate of the Finance Minister or if not; then they acted without authority and as such, they breached their authority and in those circumstances, the necessary action ought to be taken against the Board.

We can only deduce that in the midst of all these confusing statements from the Government and the stated and un-challenged statement from the Union about the wage offer by the PETROTRIN Management, the Union is now facing an imminent WAGE FREEZE. As such, any progressive Trade Union would take the necessary and legitimate action to protect the interest of its members and all other workers in the Country since a WAGE FREEZE would have very debilitating consequences to all workers of the country.

It is clear to FITUN that what is playing off in the PETROTRIN case is an attempt to institute a Government Wage Policy on the Trade Union Movement, and, they believe that if they can be successful against the most powerful Trade Union in the Country, then all other Unions would have to fall in line. We wish to remind the public that another FITUN member the CWU was also faced with a 0% x 0% x 0% wage offer for their 2014 - 2016 Wage Negotiations.

In the face of all these circumstances, FITUN would like to express its solidarity with our member Union, the OWTU in this current scenario. We demand that the Government immediately engage in the necessary discussions with the Union and the respective Federations with the clear mandate of bringing this imbroglio to on end; an imbroglio that they have created by their mis-management of the situation.

FITUN stands ready to work with parties to have this situation resolved, but we would not deviate from our support for the Union's call for the removal of the obscene WAGE FREEZE offer from the Negotiating Table. We believe that once this offer is removed and the process of Free and Fair Collective Bargaining is allowed to be pursued consistent with the principles of good industrial Relations Practices, we would save the country from the inconvenience of Strike Action.

The Government must not be allowed to mask its WAGE FREEZE Policy in the face of the Economic Challenges that the Working Class had absolutely no responsibility for. In addition, we at FITUN are strong in support for the Labour Movements Economic Alternative Plan, which strongly advocated the position of Wage Led Growth to stimulate economic activity which could take our Country out of this economic Mess that was created by previous Governments.

We therefore await the Government’s next move which we hope would be announced today, failing which we can only lay the blame at their feet for any inconvenience that the Public would face from any Strike Action that may result.

A word to the wise is sufficient.