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posted 3 Jul 2017, 18:19 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 3 Jul 2017, 18:30 ]
The Labour Advisory Bureau (LAB) will be hosting a seminar on: The social wage: Collective bargaining going beyond wages and cola on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th July 2017 at the Transport and Industrial Workers Union headquarters, Eastern Main Road, Laventille.

The Social Wage Policy was developed by the Labour Relations Department of the OWTU during the 1987/1988 onslaught against working class. That was a period much like today. Foreign exchange had dried up as the international energy industry went through a down cycle. The employers embarked upon an orgy of attacks on workers’ rights. There was a tsunami of retrenchment and for almost ten years there were massive lock outs, strike struggles and workplace occupations as the workers fought back. By 11989, the IMF had taken control of the country.

Alva Allen
An exploratory committee of the OWTU Labour Relations Department was formed and chaired by the then
Cecil Paul
Chief Labour Relations Officer, Cecil Paul and comprising Sylvester Ramquar, Alva Allen and Gregory Rousseau.

Comrades thought that there was more to Collective Bargaining than the traditional package of benefits in collective agreements. Particularly when it was discovered that Executives of companies enjoyed profit bonuses, low mortgage interest for housing loans, “executive” medical treatment, overseas travel grants and other perks not enjoyed by workers. The team while agreeing to maintain and improve all traditional benefits proposed a new range of benefits be introduced.

They came up with an additional new package of benefits to be part of the collective bargaining process. Two documents were produced namely “The Social Wage: A New Bargaining policy for the 1990’s and beyond” and “Homes for the Homeless” using the billions of dollars workers owned in Pension Funds as the basis of utilising a small portion of the funds, ten per cent, for low interest loans for members of Pension Plans with 5 or more years of service.

Also included were:

  • Profit Sharing using 10% of Gross Profit equally shared 

  • Improved Medical Plans for workers including retirees 

  • Improved Pensions (portability, reduced retirement age, permanent partial disability and better working people’s compensation). 

  • Education and Training 

  • Improved OSH benefits 

  • Ridding the workplace of so-called contract/temporary/casual workforce via Strong provisions in the Collective Agreement 

  • Improved Job Security provisions 

  • New Technology Agreements 

Demanding and getting an active role and greater say in pension Plan investments via the management committees and utilising Shares of the plan via share holders’ meetings to influence Companies policies and direction in workers interests and thereby instituting a national workers plan at firms where pension funds are invested.

Utilising Trade Union membership and workers financial power to negotiate reduced prices on group insurances, telephone plans and other major fixed expenses faced by workers.

Sylvan Wilson
The proposals were taken to the OWTU Labour Relations Department and agreement was had with valuable proposals and contributions
Winston "Man Man" Edward
from Frank Sears, Willock Pierre, Winston Edward, Sylvan Wilson and others. The OWTU Executive and General Council then approved the Social Wage Policy. The process of Seminars with workers and Progressive Unions were held for garnering other views, proposals, and getting agreement on a national front.

Some early successes were had with low cost housing at T&TEC and NP. A profit sharing breakthrough was had at NP and pension improvements were negotiated for Electricity, some Heavy Industries and Oil workers.

But, unfortunately, due to factionalism within the OWTU and non-co-operation from the Manning government in facilitating, particularly, the housing from pensions’ proposals, most of the program was restricted and eventually done away with.

The Labour Advisory Bureau (LAB), which is a non-profit organisation established by the National Workers Union, hopes, through this and other seminars, to rekindle the spirit, skills and negotiating power of the Trade Unions to improve and broaden the struggle for peace, bread and justice for working people.

Contact Ms. Gillian Winter-Roach for further information Telephone: 221-2LAB (2522) or email at gillian.winter-roach@workersunion.org.tt

No more than twenty five can be accommodated.