Where we stand‎ > ‎Media Releases‎ > ‎


posted 21 Mar 2013, 07:50 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 21 Mar 2013, 07:58 ]




The National Workers Union (NWU) views with concern the use of Section 63 of the repressive Industrial Relations Act (IRA) to force the Petrotrin workers back to work. 
It suggests that the government, which was beaten back last year in its attempt to put a cap on wages in the public sector, has become emboldened as it renews its assault on the working class in its attempt to force working people to bear the burden of the crisis of international capitalism. 
The use of Section 63 yet again confirms the repressive nature of the IRA which was enacted by a PNM government in 1972 during a state of emergency in an effort to weaken the effectiveness of the then powerful trade union movement and strengthen the position of the employers, including the state. It must be said they have largely succeeded in achieving their objective. 
The failed attempt by Arcelor Mittal to file an injunction to force members of the Steel Workers Union of Trinidad and Tobago to accept a unilateral change in their terms of work as specified in their collective agreement is another example of the willingness of employers to use the law and the state to impose their will on the working class. 

The National Workers Union warns the trade union movement that they should pay close attention to the issues that may arise in the aftermath of the Industrial Court ordering the Petrotrin workers back to work.

 The repressive Industrial Relations Act exposes the Oilfields Workers Trade Union to decertification as the Recognised Majority Union for the workers of Petrotrin. It also exposes workers who participated in what is now deemed “industrial action…taken otherwise than in conformity with” the IRA to dismissal by Petrotrin. 
The only real weapon workers have is the right to withdraw their labour and yet one hundred and seventy five years after the end of slavery; ninety six years after the end of indentureship and fifty years after independence forced labour seems alive and well. 
The National Workers Union calls on the trade union movement to go on red alert to defend the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union, if necessary, from further assaults by the employers and the state just like they defended the Transport and Industrial Workers Union and the Communication Workers Union when the PNM government attempted to decertify those unions at PTSC and TSTT respectively. 
The National Workers Union advises the trade union movement not to lower its guard in the face of the stepped up assault of the employers and the state who are hell bent on weakening the trade union movement and the working class as they pursue their agenda of wage repression and privatisation. 

This latest assault on the rights of workers confirms the long-held position of the National Workers Union and
the trade union movement that the Industrial Relations Act must be repealed. 

It defines how, when and under what conditions workers may withhold their labour; it denies workers in so-called essential services the right to strike; through its essential industries provision it violates freedom of association by denying workers the right to join a trade union of their choice; it provides employers and the state with a mechanism to decertify trade unions while not providing unions any countervailing mechanism to deal with employers. 
Far from promoting “good industrial relations” the Industrial Relations Act shifts the industrial relations terrain decisively in favour of the employers. It is a weapon of class domination and is used as a battering ram to assault and weaken the trade union movement in the ongoing class struggle. 
It is bad law and the National Workers Union renews its call for the Industrial Relations Act to be repealed. 
- END -


Gerry Kangalee (National Education and Research Officer – Cell: 785-7637)
Gerry Kangalee,
21 Mar 2013, 15:23