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posted 27 Nov 2014, 10:50 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 27 Nov 2014, 10:58 ]
The Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) has proposed a 7% wage increase over three years to the Transport and Industrial Workers Union (TIWU), the recognised majority union for the majority of the workers at the statutory authority. The contract period for which the offer was made is January 2012 to December 2014. The period only has about five more weeks to run.

The offer was made on Wednesday 26th November 2014; just five days after the union staged a powerful picket of the office of the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO). Before that picket, PTSC management was only prepared to deal with non-cost items.

According to Ronald Forde, General Manager of PTSC, this approach to the negotiations was because PTSC was advised by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport that the management should consider the Chief Personnel Officer’s recommendation that the negotiations should continue to focus on non-cost items only; pending the issuing by the CPO of the “appropriate guidelines” on the cost items.

Officially, the CPO does not negotiate on behalf of PTSC, but it is pretty clear that, just like with the PNM Inter-Ministerial Committee which used to set “guidelines” for the negotiations, government is trying to interfere in the free, collective bargaining process to the detriment of workers.

Rae Samuel interviews Roland Sutherland

What is instructive about the sequence of events is that once it became known that TIWU was going to picket the CPO, PTSC management agreed to the meeting which was held on November 26th, a meeting they had been “brakesing” for weeks. Not only did they agree to the meeting they actually came with a wage proposal (the most important of the cost items), although it must be said a woefully inadequate one.
Roland Sutherland, President of TIWU had told NWU journalist Rae Samuel at the picket that the union was only prepared to negotiate with management if management was prepared to negotiate “in earnest”.

The exercise of collective, direct action by the workers of PTSC has certainly forced the government, the CPO and PTSC management to pinch themselves. Do not trifle with the power of the working class!