T&T business sector slams unions over shutdown threat

(Trinidad Express) Members of the business community are condemning plans by the trade union movement to shut down the country and are urging them to settle their issues through dialogue.

Over a dozen trade unions signed the Labour Day accord on Sunday which included a call for the Government to remove what they called a “five per cent wage cap”.

President of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union, Ancel Roget, said if the Government fails to meet the unions’ demands, workplace shutdowns would take place in July, a series of protest demonstrations in August and a general strike on a date to be announced.

Roget was speaking on Sunday at Labour Day celebrations at Charlie King Junction, Fyzabad.

Dominic Hadeed, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association, told the Express yesterday he was disturbed by the union’s threats as he felt the industrial climate was beginning to settle down with the completion of the Public Services Association’s negotiations.

“We will never condone anything that leads to the shutting down of the country. We feel that the unions need to continue to negotiate with the Government in good faith.

“We are against anything that threatens the stability of a country. Everyone who is looking to invest is looking for a stable environment.

Meanwhile Andrew Sabga, president of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, says trade unions must make realistic demands of the Government.

“I am not in support of either side. But the union’s demands need to be realistic. There will come a point when they will have to consider what the Government can afford to pay. Things are difficult at this time and they need to be realistic,” Sabga said.

Keston Nancoo, chairman of the Employer’s Consultative Association, in his Labour Day message said he acknowledged the right of trade unions to protect workers but that this must not be at odds with the national interest.

“While we acknowledge the right of trade unions to use their organisational and institutional power to resist attacks on social and labour rights, we do believe that the time has come for us to break with tradition and to introduce greater levels of creativity supported by the will to succeed and the belief in the possibility of change,” Nancoo said.

“This is being advanced within the context that ensuring the rights of workers are not at odds with economic growth or with the country’s national interest.

“We need to remember that economic prosperity, stability and social progress cannot be achieved by governments, employers or workers acting alone,” he added.

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