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posted 28 Apr 2013, 21:53 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 28 Apr 2013, 21:57 ]




The National Workers Union notes that Mr. Christian Mouttet, Chairman of Prestige Holdings which operates KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut and TGI Friday restaurants, has complained about a shortage of workers. He went on to state that CEPEP was able to attract workers while his group of companies was unable to fill 450 vacancies in the chain. 
He added that the company had to pay “incentives” for workers to show up regularly for work and lamented that the situation is worse now than six years ago. He made a public appeal for the government to intervene and true to form an intervention is to be made by Minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training, Fazal Karim. 
Most citizens would be familiar with posters and advertisements by Prestige Holdings calling for Caricom nationals who are living illegally in T&T to work with the group with promises of regularization of their status in T&T. 
The National Workers Union is extremely concerned that government is prepared to intervene to assist Prestige Holdings. Employers have always championed the “virtue” of market forces to regulate such issues. 

If Prestige Holdings is losing or unable to attract workers, it suggests that the conglomerate needs to check its working conditions and not focus only wringing out super profits at the expense of the workers. 

Employers have always criticized trade unions and claimed that unions “distort” the market place. Well there are no unions at any Prestige restaurant and the persistent vacancies speak volumes about the working conditions at the establishments. 
Mr. Mouttet’s Freudian slip of having to pay “incentives” for workers to come to work regularly betrays just how bizarre Human Resource management is at the company. No one there, it seems, understands the purpose of wages and it is no wonder that a litany of woes emanates from past and present employees of the group. 

The big question is why is government getting involved in this matter and even more absurd is the involvement of Minister Karim. Is the Minister going to set up a certificate, diploma or degree course to impart fast food skills to would be and present workers? If government is to get involved at all then the Minister of Labour should be the one talking as the reports of abuse of workers pass through his ministry. 
Why is there this deafening silence from Minister McLeod when it is his ministry which has aided and abetted in the perpetuation of the exploitation of Caricom nationals via the granting of work permits. The goodly Minister in his previous incarnation was very clear about this abuse but it seems that yesterday was yesterday and today is today!

The National Workers Union demands that that government leave Prestige Holdings to come to their senses and realise that their business interests will be better served if their workers’ issues are properly advocated. That is what strong unions do!

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Gerry Kangalee (National Education and Research Officer – Cell: 785-7637)