Labour is safe under the People’s Partnership Government
The rights of workers and strength of the trade union movement has never been safer, than under the People’s Partnership Government, Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development, Errol McLeod said earlier today.
The Minister was responding to the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) President General, Ancel Roget, who called yesterday (Thursday 19th June,2014) for citizens to “assemble at King George V Park in Port-of-Spain” next Friday and then march to the Office of the Honourable Prime Minister. Minister McLeod questioned whether Roget was making a labour argument, or a political one.
“The Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) must make clear whether its purpose is to advocate the rights and benefits of workers, or run political campaigns,” Minister McLeod said. “Mr Roget’s call for citizens to assemble and march on the Office of the Honourable Prime Minister is unclear, especially when he refused to state the purpose of the march. The People’s Partnership Government has been the most pro-labour Government in many years. Yet we hear Mr Roget saying the Government is anti-labour, but is always unable to define exactly what he means.”
The Labour Minister said the Government’s record on settling over 75 collective agreements, “many of which were left languishing under the previous Government” is “a very convincing demonstration of support for a strong and active labour movement and for ensuring that workers have every access to the money and benefits due to them.”
Minister McLeod added: “What’s more is that in addition to an increased minimum wage in 2010 to $12.50 an hour from $9 an hour under the previous People’s National Movement (PNM) administration, the Government is in fact now exploring another increase in the minimum wage.” “Apart from terms and conditions for workers, we are also paying close attention to the comforts and safety that workers must enjoy in the workplace.”
“So to hear that Mr Roget wants to organise another march on the Office of the Honourable Prime Minister, one has to wonder if he is using the OWTU as a front for his political ambitions, or whether he has any valid issues which must be discussed on behalf of the people he represents. As far as I am aware, the terms and conditions, and the rights of workers are very strongly protected by this Government.”
The Labour Minister also questioned Roget’s claims that he “must maintain an element of surprise”. “When you are a Trade Union Leader, and your focus is the rights and terms and conditions of workers, there are no surprises, the issues you advocate are clear and must always be for the benefit of workers.” “But Mr Roget needs to make clear whether he is using the trade union as a front for his political allegiances to the PNM. I am sure that is not the kind of surprise the OWTU members want,” the Minister stated.
Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development
Tel: 625-8478 (Ext. 1203) / 351-5723 / 351-5724; Fax: 624-9126
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