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posted 14 Mar 2012, 15:00 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 14 Mar 2012, 15:00 ]
On March 8th 2012, International Women's Day, Comrade Denise Britton, President of BIGWU Women's Committee presnted a memorandum to the Minister of Labour, for and on behalf of the Women of Joint Trade Union Movement, outlining specific concerns that needed to be addressed with dispatch. he memo was presented during a demonstration commemorating this important day.
March 8th, 2012 

The Honourable Minister Errol K. Mc Leod
Minister of Labour Small and Micro Enterprises
Development International Waterfront Centre 
Wrightson Road

Honourable Minister, 

Greetings are extended to you and all members of your staff on the occasion of International Women's Day 2012 from the women of Joint Trade Union Movement. As you may be aware, International Women's Day has been observed since the early 1900. Clara Zetkin, a formidable socialist leader of her time, played a critical role in ensuring the commemoration of this significant day. She, among other progressive women leaders galvanized a movement of working women to press for their demands for the right to vote, the right to decent and humane workplace conditions and the right for women to be employed in the public service. Surely, some of those battles have been won, but there remain many more, which are far from over. 

The 21st century has witnessed significant attitudinal shifts in society's perception of the role of women, in (and out of) the workplace. There have also been critical changes in women's working conditions much of which have come as a result of the struggles of unions and other progressive bodies. Yet, evidence, anecdotal as they may be, of women in Trinidad and Tobago being discriminated because of pregnancy, marital status or simply, gender, are enough to agree that there remains much to be done. 

Though there are greater numbers of our girls acquiring tertiary education, there remains a great disparity between women and men in the leadership of companies and organisations. Further, even where women's labour is equal to men's, women's wages are generally lower. We applaud our unions for ensuring the inclusion of anti-sexual harassment clauses in various collective agreements, however the bundle of national legislation to protect the majority of working women against workplace violence is largely weak. 

It is in this vein that we are imploring you to use your good office to ensure that greater emphasis is placed on the following issues: 

· Equality and Women's Empowerment - Public education to create a more gender friendly society with an awareness of women's issues and rights; 

· Equal Pay for Equal Work - The introduction of legislation to ensure equal pay for equal work. 

· A speedy implementation of the proposed increase maternity leave to 14weeks. 

· The introduction of national legislation to protect women against sexual harassment and other types of workplace violence. 

We further call on you to address with great urgency: 

· The settlement of all outstanding negotiations which have been referred to the Ministry of Labour 

· An immediate halt to the divestment at First Citizens Bank, Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance, Petrotrin and other state funded interties 

· Ratification of International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 189 and the amendment to the Industrial Relations Act (1974) to treat Domestic Workers as Workers 

· Mandate the implementation of HIV/AIDS policy at each workplace 

· Review of the National Youth Policy         

· Public Personal facilities - Accessibility to public buildings for the differently able
The Women of the Joint Trade Union Movement look forward to your positive response and await the implementation of issues highlighted It is hereby proposed, a meeting be set, at a mutually arranged time, for parties to meet to chart the way forward. 

Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.

Inspiring girls to be stronger women for a better Trinidad and Tobago 


Comrade Denise Britton
President BIGWU Women's Committee
For and On behalf of the Women of Joint Trade Union Movement