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Duke: NTAC won’t work

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

President of the Public Services Association (PSA) Watson Duke says he is not confident the newly established National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC) will work. He said it will not be allowed to reduce the gains of public servants.

Duke made the comment shortly after the council was inaugurated by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s yesterday.

NTAC is chaired by Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis, and includes other ministers and business and trade union leaders.

It was established to provide multi-sectorial advice to the Government, identify and review sustainable national development goals, develop a national campaign on productivity which will include focus on proper work ethics and look at options that would redound to the creation of job opportunities.

Rowley said his Government saw NTAC as “reflective of one of the most revolutionary and meaningful changes in the democratic governance perspective with enormous potential for resolution of important economic and social challenges, advancing social and industrial peace and stability.”

Rowley said NTAC was perhaps “the most far-reaching measure that we have undertaken” and will operate permanently. He said the council will consult with civil society and the general public and it “will seek to promote consensus building and democratic involvement among key stakeholders on national development issues.”

Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus said T&T has traditionally displayed a confrontal approach to trade unions and has minimised and ignored the crucial role the labour movement plays in economic development.

Robinson-Regis said NTAC was set up with the singular objective of doing what is best for T&T, not individual entities.

But Duke, who initially raised objection to where he was expected to sit (at the back of the auditorium), said while he was happy about the formation of NTAC, he does not expect it to work as the parties will have no common ground. He said while he had no problem with the trade union representatives on the council, there was a bigger problem of labour unity which must be addressed.