Workers Charter


The trade union movement needs to go on the offensive to win fundamental improvements for workers who are the only creators of wealth in society. Our basic demands in this Workers Charter are what workers need to have a decent standard of living. If our society and economic system cannot provide these basics then the system needs to go and we should find a better alternative.

Inevitably, these basic demands, around which the National Workers Union campaigns both inside and outside the trade union movement, need fleshing out. This Workers Charter is a starting point on which to build.

Whilst many of the demands raised in this Workers Charter require amendments to legislation, we are under no illusion that the law is the sole answer. That is why the National Workers Union builds around the slogan Organise the Unorganised.

The Institutions of Employment Law

The cornerstone of employment law in Trinidad and Tobago is the Industrial Relations Act 1972. It imposes major limitations on workers and trade rights.

Recognition Registration and Certification Board

An end to the secrecy of the Recognition Board – all decisions must be written and open to public scrutiny

Industrial Court

The Industrial Court to have more input from the labour movement
Increase compensation to workers for dismissal cases (expand on this)

The Nature of the Contract of Employment

We are all workers
Any one who sell their labour are workers and this must be reflected in all labour legislation
Casual workers

Temporary workers


Domestic workers

Domestic workers are workers and the law must be amended to reflect this.

Contract workers

anyone who sells their labour are workers

Fixed term contracts


The Formation of a Contract of Employment

Written contract of employment

Written contracts a legal requirement to be provided within seven days of starting work.

The details must include at least the following:
  • names of employer and employee
  • date when employment began
  • details of pay and pay frequency
  • any terms and conditions relating to hours of work
  • details of entitlements to holidays, including public holidays, and holiday pay
  • incapacity for work due to sickness or injury and details of sick or injury pay
  • pensions and medial plan details
  • job title
  • if the post is not permanent, details of start and finish of job and reason for not being permanent
  • place of work

reference to disciplinary and grievance procedures

Itemised pay slips

A legal requirement for an employer to provide regular pay slips which must show gross and net wages and all additions and deductions from wages

Discrimination in Employment


No discrimination of grounds of:
  • race
  • nationality
  • colour
  • religion
  • age
  • gender
  • sexual orientation
  • disability (including HIV/AIDS)


No harassment at work which includes sexual and racial harassment and bullying.

Equal Pay

Equal pay for work of equal value

Maternity, Paternity and Parental Rights

Maternity rights

Set standards that are higher than current Maternity Protection Act.

It is important that we do not just accept the legal minimum as the maximum....

Paternity Rights and Adoption

One month.

Family care

One month

Employment Protection

Paid time off the represent the country on regional and intentional events
More? ...

Protection of Wages

No deductions from wages except as required by law or with the agreement of the worker (need to make special reference to retail trade and/or security industry?)

Catering industry workers to get full tips and services charges – none to be retained by the employer

Transfer of Undertakings


When work is transferred from one employer to a next, all workers, their contract of employment and trade union recognition must also be transferred.

Performance of the Contract of Employment


Occupational Safety and Health

Whilst the Occupational Safety and Health Act (2004 and 2006) represents a significant improvement over the previous Factories Act, it still contains major weaknesses.

Trade Union involvement

Trade union safety representative to be recognised by law

trade unions to be able to visit workplaces even if not recognised

Corporate Manslaughter

Where workers are killed, Boards should be charged with Corporate manslaughter.


Ban the import and use of asbestos.

Establish a register of know buildings with asbestos


Ban the import and use of these deadly weed killers.

Find and use safer substitute.

Workmen's Compensation

Needs to be updated – but we need to say more than this.

Disciplinary, Dismissal and Grievance Procedures
Grievance Procedure

All employers must have written grievance procedure.

Where there is a recognised trade union this must be negotiated with that union.

All workers must be entitled to trade union representation to process their grievances.
Disciplinary Procedure

All employers must have written disciplinary procedure based on natural justice.

Where there is a recognised trade union this must be negotiated with that union.

All workers must be entitled to trade union representation when being disciplined irrespective of whether the union is recognised.

Failure to follow disciplinary procedures based on natural justice to be automatic unfair dismissal.

Suspensions and demotions only allowed if provided for in the Contract of Employment or Collective Agreement.

All investigatory suspensions to be on full pay.

Disciplinary suspensions to be no longer than on week.

All disciplinary records to be wiped clean after six months.

Continuous Employment


Pay and Conditions of Employment


For a Living Wage of not less that 50% of national average earnings

Annual review of Minimum Wages Order after negotiations with trade union movement

Increases in the Living wage should be linked to inflation.
Working week

35 hour week

5 day week

Workers should be able to live on their basic wages and so, in principle, the Union is opposed to overtime. However, the Union recognises that many workers with low wages wages will look to do overtime to enhance their poor earnings. The Union will therefore campaign for:

First eight (8) hours: double time

all hours after the first eight (8): treble time
Unsocial Hours Working

Workers quality time is important. Were the production process requires work at weekends and nights must be paid for even if part of the basis working week. The union will therefore campaign for:

1.5 for all hours on Saturday

2x for all hours on Sunday

2x for all night hours

4 weeks minimum per year.
Study Leave

Need to insert requirements for study leave with pay
Public Holidays

Full pay for all public holidays.

Carnival to be treated as Public Holiday.

Make 1st May May a Public Holiday.

When a public holiday falls on weekend, a compensatory day during the week.

Where workers are required to work on a public holiday double time plus a compensatory day off.

No requirements to work either side of a public holiday in order to qualify for benefits.
Sick Leave

6 months full pay, six month half pay

To be treated separately from injury leave
Injury Leave

6 months full pay, six month half pay

To be treated separately from sick leave
Bereavement Leave

2 weeks

The Union recognised that pension are, in reality, deferred wages and it is therefore vital that they are not the plaything of employers. The Union therefore demands:

Full control by Unions

Only defined benefits plans

No employers contributions holidays

Occupational Pension Plans should be compulsory

Where there is no pension plan, workers should be entitled to minimum payments.
Medical Plans

Health care is vital and the union will campaign for a fully funded, free at the point of delivery public health care service.

… what do we say about medical plans if we want a free public healthcare system?

Rights in Notice

There must be a minimum one months notice given by an employer when ending a contract of employment. (? need to think about this one or word it better)

Unfair dismissal
Written reason

The employer must always provide a written reason for dismissal at the time of the dismissal.

Failure to provide a written reason for dismissal will automatically be considered unfair dismissal.
Onus on the employer

The onus must be on the employer to show that the dismissal was fair and not the other way around.



Redundancy and Severance Benefits Act to be amended to cover situation s were the Company closes down.

The creation of a National Redundancy Fund administered by the NIB and financed by a level on all employers.

Workers entitlements to take priority when a company closes (and not the banks and creditors)

increase redundancy benefits – to what?


An unemployment benefit should be paid through the National Insurance Board.

Individual Trade Union Rights


The Law Relating to Trade Unions

The right to organise and take industrial action

All workers to be classified as “workers” under the Industrial Relations Act.

Quick and easy ways of getting union recognition.

Easy ways of arranging union amalgamations and transfers of engagement.

Amend Section 51(1)(c) to abolish need for member in good standing for rights matters.

Scrap essential industries

legal right to information from the employer for collective bargaining purposes.

Legal right to check-off even if the union is not recognised.

The Law Relating to Industrial Relations


Job Security

All jobs to be permanent after 3 month probationary period

Controlled use of casual and temporary workers

No contracting out

Trade Union Rights

Set out list of trade union facilities at the workplace – to be included in Collective Agreements include access to the Internet.

Workers Rights

Amend the IRA

Right to strike


one trade union centre

Version 2 – Issued: [insert date]

Draft 1 [10/10/09]

Recommended by the National Executive Committee on: [insert date]

Approved by the General Council on: [insert date]