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HORACE NORAY DIES by Cecil Paul

posted 6 Nov 2012, 04:06 by Gerry Kangalee

ADVOCATE FOR EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK

 

Horace Noray, former President of OWTU T&TEC Port of Spain Branch, former Senior Labour Relations Officer and Executive Officer of the Oilfields Workers Trade Union, passed on October 29, 2012. 
 
Comrade Noray was one of the pioneers of the successful struggle of Electricity workers to move from the Electricity Supply Industrial Union in the late 1960’s and join the OWTU. This move gave the OWTU its first major front in the battle to widen the influence of the Blue Shirt Army from its original Southern Base. 

Later on in the late 1970’s he became the President of the Port–of-Spain Branch, then quickly moved up the leadership ladder to be one of the Labour Relations Officers in the Northern Area and then an Executive Officer of the Union. 
 
Comrade Noray was a powerful and influential speaker and a negotiator of great skill, discipline, patience and organization. One remembers his long hours of painstaking preparation before leading disputes at bilateral levels, conciliation at the Ministry of Labour and arbitration at the Industrial Court. As a result of this approach he won many benefits for the workers of T&TEC and others in the Northern area of the OWTU. 
 
Despite these major achievements he won for workers, my view is that Comrade Horace Noray’s most significant contribution to workers was his struggle to achieve EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK FOR WOMEN WORKERS, PARTICULARLY THOSE FEMALES IN THE MANUFACTURING SECTOR. 
 
Under the leadership of Comrade Eugene Joseph then OWTU Senior Labour Relations Officer (North) and General Secretary of the Council of Progressive Trade Unions (CPTU), a battle was waged to equalize women workers wages in the same jobs with that of their male counterparts performing the same duties. 
 
This was in the middle and late 1960’s when it was common to see a wage schedule listing Male Attendant and Female Attendant, Male Operator and Female Operator, Male Clerk and Female Clerk. This differential in titles was significant in that male workers received as much as 20% more than female workers. 
 
Together with Comrades Adrian Mason former OWTU Lever Bros. Branch President and Labour Relations Officer and myself the struggle first had to be won against some of our male members who claimed that women could not adequately perform some of the physical work and that this upgrading of women’s wages would affect their (the male) wage increases. 
  
Some of us were buckling under the pressure from our male comrades fearing that we could cause division among the ranks. Even some of our shop stewards opposed the Equality Programme. Comrade Horace Noray never buckled and suggested that we mobilise the women workers to get engaged in the struggle. Once we had convinced our male comrades we proceeded to do battle against the companies. 

Equal Pay for Equal Work was a costly proposition for the employers as it meant an increase in the wage bill of approximately 20-25%. The Companies hired some of the best industrial relations lawyers at the time in order to maintain this discriminatory practice. They argued that the jobs while carrying the same name were less demanding on women. However they were destined to fail. 

Comrade Horace Noray, in a strategic move, got the Ministry of Labour to write a dispute settlement on the issue deeming the practice unfair and discriminatory. This became the precedent to have the employers overturn the long established practice of paying women workers doing the same job less than male workers. Within a period of two years all the Collective Agreements in the OWTU reflected the fair principle of EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK. 


The struggle against the injustice female workers experienced is how I remember Comrade Horacy Noray of T&TEC. Rest in peace Comrade!
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