Last update: 13-Dec-2013 3:20 am
Friday, December 13, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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McLeod: T&T’s poor labour relations can damage economy
Labour Minister Errol McLeod warned yesterday that lack of communication among the country’s main stakeholders is responsible for serious industrial relations problems that can damage T&T’s economy. “It has resulted in sickouts and counter productive, self defeating actions at the expense of productivity and employment promotion.
“Some recent impasses have not only affected the already precarious situation facing three key operations in our major industrial sectors but have put many jobs at risk,” he said in his feature address at the Employers’ Consultative Association (ECA) two day conference, Reality Bites: Transcending the Divide at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre, St Ann’s. The minister cited the recent example of an “entity” where 83 employees were allegedly suspended.
“One of these entities alleges that 83 employees are suspended on full pay pending investigations for engaging in illegal work stoppage at its gantries, while the workers’ representatives counter allege that the employees walked off the job due to occupational safety and health issues. “In whichever way it happened, the stand off underscores the absence of good industrial relation practices and sound management/labour communication methods,” McLeod said.
He said given the “high stakes” of a competitive global economy, T&T’s industrial relations climate needs to improve. “I am suggesting that this divide cannot continue. This breakdown in communication reinforces the point that the prerogative of management to suspend or retrench workers must always be the last option,” he said.
McLeod said government and business leaders must communicate with workers more because of the realities of globalisation. He said failure to so so impacts negatively on the country.
“In addition to weathering the challenges of globalisation, fiscal deficits and risks involved in managing organisations among other issues, we need to engage workers on a more regular basis. As organisational leaders, emphasis must be placed on strengthening employer and employee relations as a vital tool for survival in today’s turbulent global environment,” he said. The minister said there was no development without labour and no labour without development.
“Our human capital is the core of labour. Therefore, the employer and employee relationship and the constructive inclusion of labour is critical to our level of productivity, growth and development,’ he said.
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