The Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union is calling on the trade union movement to intensify a campaign for labour legislation reform. In his New Year’s message, president Vincent Cabrera said T&T continues to have on its statutes many items of labour legislation which can only be described as “archaic.”
“These labour laws fall below the international standards established by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Indeed our country remains very far from achieving the goal of decent work in T&T. The ILO’s Decent Work Programme will not be achieved if the government continues to keep labour legislation on the back burner,” he said.
Cabrera warned that industrial-relations systems will continue to malfunction should the government fail to carry out a comprehensive programme of reform on all labour legislation. “In a country where the government wields significant influence on industrial relations matters by virtue of its involvement in state sector companies, public utilities and special purpose companies, in addition to the public sector itself, it is difficult to escape the reality of political involvement in order to defend the interest of workers,” he said.
Cabrera said in many cases the union is forced to face the government both as employer and administrators of the state machinery. Cabrera said the movement was able to break the shackles of five per cent although some employers persisted with the offer during negotiations. He said this past year has been an “incessant struggle” by trade unions and workers against the “wage restraint policy” of the People’s Partnership government.
“In all of this, it must not be forgotten that the BIGWU has been able to negotiate agreements with percentage increases of 15 per cent in many cases. We are now seeing the amusing development where associations in the public sector have been attempting to re-open negotiations after they ill-advisedly accepted five per cent agreements,” he said.