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TTMA calls for urgent action on port issues
The Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) said yesterday that it was concerned with the recent disruption of the services at the port of Port-of-Spain and is offering to use its good offices to mediate talks aimed at resolving the issues. Discontent by port workers over negotiations that are ongoing with the management has caused several work stoppages at the port recently. In a statement, the TTMA said: “This repeated and apparent predictable action can result in mounting port rent, demurrage charges and raw material shortages resulting in the inability to meet customer’s demands in a timely fashion,” according to the manufacturers’ body, adding that the disruptions can also increase the cost of doing business in T&T, resulting in consumers having to pay more for goods and services.
The association noted efforts elsewhere in the country to reduce the cost of doing business. These efforts could come to “naught if trade facilitation measures and border agencies are not operating in an optimal fashion.” The TTMA said: “Manufacturers are asked to compete in a global environment where it is critical to maintain and reduce cost as much as possible just to be able to secure market share globally, regionally and nationally. “Thus, this type of industrial action is not conducive for producers and consumers alike and can only serve to erode the limited competitive advantages for business in the country as well as add to increase inflationary pressure on the consumers.”
The TTMA said that it was aware that the issues surrounding these industrial unrests are not easily resolved and are challenging to all parties concerned. However, it called on all parties involved—the government, the labour union and the port management—to work together in a meaningful way to bring some resolution the situation. According to the TTMA: “It is imperative that action be taken immediately to chart a way forward that speaks to transparency, accountability, fairness and equitability where all parties’ concerns are considered. There should be a proper framework in place that will allow for addressing the concerns of the past, present and future to the interests of all.” The association said port operations in this country are of paramount importance to the trading environment “and to operate in a climate that is not predictable acts as a disincentive to the business fraternity in T&T.” As a result, the TTMA pleaded with the relevant parties involved in the dispute to work together in a timely fashion to bring back some level of normalcy to the operations on the port of Port-of-Spain.