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posted 22 Jul 2016, 07:17 by Gerry Kangalee
The Minister of Labour Jennifer Baptiste-Primus has made it clear that that her role is that of consultant to the employers relating to their industrial relations obligations and not, as was generally believed, to be a conciliator and guide as to procedure in industrial relations matters.

The Minister, according to newspaper reports advised employers at a Rotary function to consider implementing “agreed wage freezes, pay cuts, decreased work hours, temporary lay-offs, reduced benefits, redeployment of employees into other lines of businesses and job-sharing.”

The Minister is giving employers free advice on how best to make workers pay for the capitalist crisis they had no part in creating. This Minister has done nothing to protect steel workers, citizens of this country, from the depredations of Arcelor Mittal. This demonstrates the impotence of government to protect its citizens from foreign corporations and their exploitation of workers; it seems when citizens are workers, they deserve no protection from the state from the exploitative practices of their employers, foreign and domestic.

So here we have a Minister of Labour encouraging wage reductions and inferior benefits as an alternative to retrenchment and mentions nothing of high profits being reduced and reductions in obscenely high management salaries and bonuses, nor of tax evasion, money laundering, capital flight and corrupt practices.

If this is the advice being given to employers, then the National Workers Union warns all workers in the public sector, including at state enterprises and statutory authorities, that they have to move quickly to defend themselves seeing that the government is the biggest employer in the country and would certainly pay close attention to the advice of its Minister.

Unionised workers in the private sector must ensure that their union leaderships are prepared to struggle with all the resources available to them to defend their hard-won rights and obligations. Already Massy Pres-T-Con has proposed a wage freeze to the Transport and Industrial Workers Union. Non-Unionised workers in the private sector must move quickly to organise themselves into unions to give themselves a fighting chance to survive the onslaught of the employers.

The National Workers Union calls upon trade union leaderships to mobilise workers to fight back against this growing assault. In order to show commitment to ensuring workers benefits and entitlements are not devastated, trade union leaderships should withdraw from all the pappy show advisory boards and committees that are designed as permanent talk shops and that constrict the debates and struggles to behind closed doors and not where they belong - on the workplaces and in the streets.


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