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posted 28 Apr 2014, 10:27 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 29 Apr 2014, 07:22 ]

The National Executive Committee of the National Workers Union (NWU) will picket the office of the Minister of Labour on Thursday May 1st 2014 (May Day). The picket begins at 12:00 noon at the International Waterfront Centre, #1 Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.

The picket is intended to highlight the growing frustration and anger in the trade union movement at the failure of the government to tackle the burning issues of legislative reform of the labour laws in this country.

When it was making its election bid the People’s Partnership, a motley crew of opportunists and political hustlers, committed itself to a programme of legislative reform as contained in the Workers Agenda. To date, nothing has happened.

Some of the issues that need urgent attention are: the failure of the government to ratify International Labor Organisation (ILO) Convention 189 that calls for domestic workers worldwide to be treated as ”workers” according to law. In 2011, Labour Minister, Errol K. McLeod, committed his government to ratify the convention at the ILO Conference in Geneva.

Despite numerous calls from the National Union of Domestic Employees to amend the Industrial Relations Act (NUDE) since then, nothing has happened.

There are many other outstanding issues that the Workers Agenda calls for including:


limitations on the right to strike to be removed;

decertification of Trade Unions to be outlawed;

speedy resolutions of recognition claims;

the removal of restrictions on workers‘ right to join a trade union of their choice;

all workers to be recognised as workers: the term "worker" should be amended to include drivers, domestic workers, etc.

repeal of the Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act, No 32/85 which does not provide for payment of severance pay to workers who are faced with company closure;

amendment of the Companies Act so workers’ severance could be given the highest priority when a company goes into receivership;

repeal of Workmen‘s Compensation Act and replacement with a modern Employee Injury and Disability Act;
amendment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act to deal with the environmental aspects of occupational health and safety.

a policy on migrant labour;

the cessation of restructuring of state companies and the public service resulting in retrenchment and the loss of trade union recognition;

an end to Contract Labour in the Public Service, Teaching Service, and State Sector generally as this results in job insecurity, and inferior terms and condition of employment, and opens up avenues for corruption.

failure to deal with a living wage


The most urgent of these issues, barring the ratification of Convention 189, is the failure of the PP government to expedite recognition procedures. This results in ridiculous situations like the Recognition Board taking years to verify whether the majority of a workforce of twenty opted to join a union.


Another critical issue is the existence of the Essential Industries Schedule of the Industrial Relations Act debarring unions operating in scheduled industries from representing workers in other scheduled industries.


On 11th November 2013, the NWU organized a very successful picket of the Recognition Board which resulted in a meeting with the Board and an opportunity for the unions to put forward alternative recognition procedures. Nothing new has happened to date!


The ironic thing is that the Workers Agenda was adopted at a Conference of Shop Stewards and Branch Officers (COSSABO) in April 2010, one month before the elections. The Workers Agenda was presented to the COSSABO by Errol McLeod and Rudy Indarsingh, both of whom are now ministers in the government with McLeod holding the post of Minister of Labour. Some people can’t resist the butter!


The National Workers Union, based on the foregoing, has decided to carry the fight to the Minister, a former labour leader, who has embraced the employers’ positions with great enthusiasm.


The executive of the NWU welcomes support from any quarter of the trade union and working class movement for its picket on May Day, a day dear to the heart of organised labour.


The contempt and scorn in which the latest clique of looters of public funds hold working people is clear. They promise the moon and the stars when they need your support, but once the silly season is over, they sideline you and go about the serious business of filling their fat guts at the hog trough of public funds.


We must not allow these confidence tricksters posing as governments to go about unchallenged. We must bring the concerns of working people to the fore and struggle with determination and commitment to pursue our interests. The exploiters do not apologise for pursuing theirs.