Utter disbelief… that’s the reaction of the Member of Parliament for Couva South Rudranath Indarsingh to Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s announcement in Parliament last Friday that one of the ten Achievements of Government was “Preservation of Jobs.”
Indarsingh called the Prime Minister’s pronouncement a continuation of his Government’s deception and propaganda campaign which has now reached unprecedented heights.
He said the Rowley-led PNM Government had failed to create any new jobs and workers have become an endangered specie under his tenure. How can Rowley speak about “Preservation of Jobs” when over 30,000 workers have lost their jobs in the public and private sectors since he became Prime Minister and this number keeps growing every week?
Indarsingh, the Opposition Labour and Enterprise Development Critic, questioned the yardstick the Prime Minister used to list “Preservation of Jobs” as one of his Administration’s achievements when the Industrial Relations and the collective bargaining process have sunk to an all time low and the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Joint Trade Union Movement has been totally abandoned.
He said Prime Minister Rowley was being disingenuous in his assessment of the Labor market when his Administration has comprehensively undermined the free and fair collective bargaining process and up to this point in time, his Government cannot account to the labour movement how many collective agreements have been agreed upon.
Further, the Labour movement is still waiting on the amendments to the Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act and the Industrial Relations Act to be tabled in Parliament.
Indarsingh said that Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, the Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development has been unable to deliver on her ten-point plan to assist all retrenched workers revolving around matching workers’ skills with job vacancies. The plan involves converting workers into technical/vocation instructors via the National Skills Centre and various ministries from Education to Social Development. But even employees at the National Skills Centre are wary of their own job security.
Under Baptiste-Primus’s leadership, the National Productivity Council has collapsed because the labour movement has withdrawn its participation.
Instead of working towards preserving jobs in the country, Baptiste-Primus made much fanfare of a promise to create 35000 jobs for nationals to drive trucks in Canada with the promise of dual citizenship in her contribution to the 2015/2016 budget debate; to-date not a single job has been created or will ever be created.
The former Minister of State in the Ministries of Labor and Finance lamented that the current Ministers of Government never had the time to address the closure of companies and workers issues in the state and private sector such as Arcelor Mittal, Tourism Development Company, Caribbean Nitrogen Company Limited, Caroni Green Ltd, Seafood Industry Limited and GISL just to name a few.
Right now, workers at Petrotrin, UTT, BIR and Customs and Excise, WASA and T&TEC are unsure of their future and are hoping that the Prime Minister will ensure that their jobs are those on his “preservation” list.
The former Trade Union Leader said there is a complete lack of political will and interest with the Rowley-led PNM Administration to strengthen the labor movement in the country; this he posits is bordering on contempt towards the trade union movement and simply reflects the wider marginalisation of working-class issues in the public sphere.