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posted 12 Aug 2010, 20:50 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 12 Aug 2010, 22:17 by Unknown user ]

The National Trade Union Centre (NATUC), has recommended to the Minister of Finance that the minimum wage be fixed at $13.50 per hour.
The trade union federation did so despite the Banking, Insurance and General Workers' Union (BIGWU), a leading member of NATUC, recommending $20.00 per hour and despite members of the People's Partnership having called for $20.00 during the election campaign.
In a budget brief  presented to the Minister (see attachment below) NATUC calls for a living wage which it defines as: " a level of compensation that gives the average worker the ability to support families, to maintain self respect and to have both the means and the leisure to participate in the civic life of the nation"
Many trade unionists were confused not only by NATUC's position on the minimum wage, but by its seeming endorsement of productivity bargaining and its appeal to the government to consider unions which operate companies as the "first alternative in restructuring, contracting out/outsourcing processes which has now become a new phenomenon in the workplace."
Instead of fighting against contracting out/outsourcing, NATUC wants to benefit from it. But then, both the Seamen and Waterfront Workers' Trade Union and the National Union of Government and Federated Workers practise business unionism and have invested in the housing construction sector. NUGFW even had a starring role in the Uff Commission of enquiry into the construction sector.
On page 171, item 20.6, the Uff Report states:

"This project concerns land at Valsayn comprising some 9 hectares (22 acres) which was owned by the National Housing Authority. The Cabinet, during Dr. Rowley's tenure as Minister of Housing, agreed to sell the land at a greatly reduced price to the National Union of Government and Federated Workers (the Union) to facilitate the construction of low-cost housing on behalf of the Union.
The Commissioners have not seen the original documentation but it is accepted that the sale took place in February 2004 at a price of $2,530,000. Some months later the Union took the decision to resell the land to UDeCOTT at a price of approximately $7.5 million. Dr. Rowley stated that he attempted to investigate the resale but was unable to obtain any further information. In particular, no information has been volunteered as to whether the windfall profit realised by the Union is still held in their account, and if so on what terms. The Commissioners were not provided with any rationale for the re-sale of the land. This requires further investigation."
One trade union observer pointed out that there were positive recommendations in NATUC's submission e.g.their stress on the  Importance of workers to the economy, the link between economic and social development,  flexible work hours, training, determination of skill needs, the call for settlement of major negotiations in the state sector, pension reform, tax benefits on severance pay  and union dues, improvement on health plans and housing for workers. Food security was mentioned but was not properly developed.
Gerry Kangalee,
12 Aug 2010, 20:55