The private sector is warning of negative consequences for the country if trade unions go ahead with plans for a shutdown of the country today. Various business groups have issued statements expressing concern about the repercussions of the Rest and Reflect action being spearheaded by the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) with support from various trade unions.
The T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce appealed to Government and labour to work together to chart the way forward. The group described the call by OWTU leader Ancel Roget for workers across the country to stay away from their jobs today as a “retrograde step” that will only “undermine the economy and ultimately harm the very persons it is intended to help”.
“The possible fallout could very well serve to intensify already trying times for all who share the burden, including the more vulnerable among us,” the Chamber said.
The statement from the business group continued: “It is also our understanding that such action is contrary to the Industrial Relations Act. Instead of calls for disruptive activity, the T&T Chamber is of the view that there needs to be a commitment to do whatever it takes to restore our national competitiveness and growth.
“The country has been aware of the situation with Petrotrin for several years. We now stand at a crossroads where we can neither sustain the massive debt nor the ongoing losses of the refinery operations. It is a time for forward looking approaches; the world is changing and we need to place greater emphasis on where we need to be for a sustainable economy.”
The T&T Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA), while expressing empathy with Petrotrin workers who are facing job loss, said it does not support the nationwide shutdown since it will adversely affect the interests of the majority of the nation’s citizens.
The TTMA said T&T is ranked 83rd in the competitiveness index and productivity in the country’s industrial sectors declined by eight per cent during fiscal 2015/2016, a steep decline from the 1.4 per cent decline recorded in fiscal 2014/2015.
“The TTMA asks employees to consider the impact their actions would have on businesses small, medium and large which are in varied ways having difficulty in keeping their doors open at this time and many of whom are struggling to maintain their complement of employees from month to month,” said TTMA President Christopher Alcazar.
“Our climate for investment is crippled by actions such as these and with an already abysmal productivity index, it is important to look at our collective concerns in the context of our current economic landscape. While we acknowledge that there are many factors which contribute to the low levels of productivity in our nation, poor work ethic in the national labour force has been cited in international benchmarking as the number one problematic factor for doing business in this country for yet another year.”
The T&T Coalition of Services Industries (TTCSI) appealed for caution and compassion on the part of the Government but said citizens must do more to ensure the companies they work for remain competitive and productive.
“At a time when our national competitiveness is being threatened by declining productivity and work ethic, the country cannot afford more unnecessary ‘down time.’ Business owners, managers and employees must come together to ensure the sustainability of all sectors of our economy,” the TTCSI said in its statement.
The group warned that today’s planned shutdown will have serious negative implications for the country with the most inconvenience being experience by average citizens.