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posted 10 Feb 2014, 06:29 by Gerry Kangalee

In a letter appearing in the Newsday of Friday, February 7, 2014 Mr. Kenwin Dalip, a well known Industrial Relations consultant and a representative of the Employer Class in both the State and Private Sectors in Trinbago, made the following statements, among others, on amendments to the Industrial Relations Act, with particular reference to the Industrial Court.


He wrote, “it is time that the Industrial Relations Act be amended to meet the demands of a growing and much more evolved industrial climate”. Mr. Dalip continues “the two most needful areas are the need to change the process by which workers can come before the Court and the choice of persons to serve as Judges in the Court”.


Mr. Dalip then expresses the view that “that the current requirement that citizens must be members of a union to seek redress before the Court must be changed and that the lack of Union membership should not hinder an affected worker from going to the Court for assistance”.


On the second needful area Mr. Dalip recommends, “that persons who have been active in the trade union movement and who have held high office in same should not be made judges. I find it difficult to see how they can effectively arbitrate independently without showing favour to the Unions to the detriment of employers”.


Mr. Dalip finally stated, “Persons who are trained and qualified in Public Administration, Human Resources Management and Law should be considered first and foremost as judges”.


With respect to the first needful area: individual workers cannot afford to go to the Court with high priced consultants like Mr. Dalip or with a lawyer. Getting the best representation for workers at very little cost (low membership fees and small monthly dues) is what trade unions are about. In some issues unions may hire lawyers at no cost to affected workers.


 Is Mr. Dalip suggesting that a minimum wage worker must get a lawyer or a consultant instead of a trade union to get redress from the Industrial Court? What a nonsensical and silly proposal. Trade unions represent any worker needing help. None is turned away. Further there is an understanding that if the affected worker comes from an area of industry in which a particular Union has the expertise then the worker is sent to that Union to ensure the best representation.


Mr Dalip seems eager to make the industrial court into a warren for lawyers and consultants instead of a place where low paid workers may get some form of redress, however inadequate.


On the second needful area Mr. Dalip fails to mention that employer representatives are also made judges of the Court as well as Public Servants engaged in Industrial Relations. Since the Court was set up in 1972 Union officials have always been judges. Why then must trade union officials be excluded? Perhaps he thinks trade union officials are not well educated or fit to be in the same arena as the upper classes.


Mr. Dalip might well suggest that defence lawyers not be considered for appointment to the High Court.


Next Mr. Dalip might suggest that ordinary workers should not be selected as jurors because they are untrained, unqualified, biased, and not independent and therefore unfit to decide on guilt or innocence in the criminal court.


Is Mr. Dalip  attempting to put judges formerly from the trade unions on the defensive? Or is he annoyed that he is losing most of his highly paid cases at the Industrial Court and looking for scapegoats to blame?


Finally Mr. Dalip favours trained and qualified persons to be considered first and foremost as judges. Well for Mr. Dalip’s information most of the better trained, experienced and qualified practitioners in Industrial Relations historically came from the trade union movement. These comrades serve as shop stewards, branch officers, labour relations officers and executive officers of their unions.


 Trade unions have conducted numerous training sessions over the years using top professionals in the field as presenters. Recently, the Labour Advisory Bureau of the National Workers Union conducted intensive seminars on Collective Bargaining and Industrial Court Practice for officials of several unions using some of the best practitioners in the field. Other seminars to be conducted soon deal with Pension Plans and the Social Wage.  


These comrades have practised at the bi-lateral, conciliatory and arbitration levels for many years and have come up against some of the foremost consultants and lawyers in the field.


Mr. Kenwin Dalip  prefers not to deal with the real problems besetting the industrial court like the question of security of tenure for judges and the fact that cabinet appoints judges instead of an independent body. His focus is on the narrow interests of lawyers and consultants.  He has clearly exposed his class bias and displayed gross contempt and disrespect for working people.