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posted 9 Jul 2011, 21:36 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 9 Jul 2011, 21:38 ]

The Honourable Prime Minister
Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar
Office of the Prime Minister
St. Clair Avenue,
Port of Spain
Dear Hon. Prime Minister,


We the undersigned Joint Trade Union Leaders are writing to your goodself expressing our disappointment in your response to the current Industrial Relations Climate in Trinidad and Tobago. It is clear that the situation has now reached a state of crisis. Since last year the Joint Trade Union Leaders sought to resolve this issue by requesting a meeting with you which was held on November 23, 2010. We attached a copy of the letter dated November 7, 2010 where it was highlighted that industrial peace and stability is an important pre-requisite for economic development and progress.

It was made clear from the onset that, that the November 23, 2010 meeting was not meant to be a negotiation. Rather, it was an opportunity to agree on the principle that the workers needed to be made ‘whole’. You were repeatedly reminded that the Manifesto “Prosperity for All” which is now your government’s policy stated clearly that the People’s Partnership was about placing workers at the centre of development. Regrettably, offers at the various bargaining tables were anything but fair and just and definitely do not represent placing workers at the centre of development.

Subsequent to that meeting, there was no change in the positions by both the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) and other negotiating teams representing various state enterprises. As the situation continued to escalate, the Joint Trade Union Leaders again wrote to you on December 28, 2010, (copy attached) expressing a feeling of betrayal and disappointment in that there was no real attempt to apply the principle of making workers ‘whole’. To date there is yet to be a response.

In addition, the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) has also written you by letters dated May 26, 2010; October 28, 2010; December 29, 2010; January 27, 2011 and February 16, 2011 (all copies attached).

Notwithstanding all these efforts, there has been nothing but disrespect and disregard shown by your government through the Minister of Finance. His economic policies, we have said time and again can only lead to a collision course between the labour movement and the government. That time has now arrived.

On Labour Day, June 19, 2011, the Trade Union movement, facing a government policy of capping wages at 5%, signed the Labour Day Accord. Such a policy is a surreptitious move by a government who came into office on the basis that it will partner with the labour movement. This represents a betrayal of the highest order. Attached is a copy of this Accord where we listed our demands with the number one demand being the removal of the 5% wage cap.

In this regard we the Joint Trade Union Leaders again call upon you to resolve this major wage impasse within two (2) weeks. Failing which, we will be left with no choice but to continue with our joint actions as outlined in the Labour Day Accord. Given our numerous attempts at reasonably averting this crisis and given your government’s inflexible approach, we wish to again make it abundantly clear that the Trade Union Movement can not be held responsible for any adverse outcomes going forward.