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T&T Chamber: Job cuts not a priority

Published: 
Friday, March 18, 2016
T&T Chamber president Robert Trestrail, left, with Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, Canadian businessman Michael Lee Chin and Catherine Kumar, CEO of the Chamber, at its annual business luncheon earlier this week at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain. PHOTO: SEAN NERO

President of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce Robert Trestail has given the assurance that members of that organisation will not be rushing to downsize their workforces because of the recession. He said putting people on the breadline is not a priority for T&T Chamber members and appealed to companies that might be forced to lay off workers to honour their obligations to pay severance benefits.

In his address at the T&T Chamber’s Annual Meeting Business Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad in Port-of-Spain, Trestrail said when the employer/employee relationship comes to an end, full compensation and all entitlements must always be the operating standard.

“I would like to assure the powers that be that with business it is never the first option to relieve workers of their jobs. In fact, that comes only after exhausting all measures to ensure the business can survive,” he said.

”In several media reports, much has been ventilated about the actions of business and the need to treat workers with respect, ensuring that what is legally due is paid to them. I emphatically endorse those sentiments and remind our member and all businesses that your employees are one of your greatest assets. We need to treat them with respect, not only during their tenure, but also when the relationship of employer and employee has come to an end.”

Trestrail said he was mindful of call by Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus for the re-employment of displaced ArcelorMittal workers. He said the T&T Chamber membership is in great need of employees and those “willing to adjust their expectations” can enter new areas of employment. 

“It is not merely about hiring vacancies but it is, too, about opportunities to fund new investment. On any given day, a casual drive through our towns and districts reveal numerous signs encouraging people to apply within. As such, we believe that there is ample opportunity to find employment,” Trestrail said.

He further stated that during an economic downturn, the private sector must balance reductions in government expenditure, while ensuring that the country benefits from value added development. 

Trestail said the T&T Chamber, as a member of the private sector/civil society group (PSCSG), participated and presented recommendation to a Joint Select Committee of Parliament on the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property (Amendment) Bill 2015. 

“This Bill outlines mandatory compliance with the principles of good governance: accountability, transparency and value for money–and elements of ethics, efficiency and fairness for all parties involved in any public procurement process. The JSC has endorsed most of our recommendations and the Bill is now due to be debated in Parliament.

“With the other members of the PSCSG, the T&T Chamber will continue to lobby for key public procurement legislation. All government contracts to the private sector must be able to withstand the stringent scrutiny of a legislative framework that fosters an environment of transparency and accountability. This is of paramount importance as we make strides as a society in curbing corruption,” he said.

“While we continue to cut cost and keep our margins ups, we ought not to descend into a chasm of doom and gloom. On the contrary! We must know that the investments we make today are the ones that will pay off as the economy rebounds. We must know that the very challenges we face at present, serve to heighten the need and the demand for increased partnerships between public and private sector leaders. Those collaborations are invariably the forerunner to the implementation of critical plans and policies needed to navigate the path towards long-term sustainability and recovery.”