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Contract labour out of control

Published: 
Friday, January 15, 2016
Minister speaks out against ‘parallel workforce’
Jennifer Baptiste-Primus

Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus says contract labour in T&T has gotten out of control and has formed a parallel workforce to permanent workers.

She said so yesterday while addressing the media at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press conference.

Baptiste-Primus said her ministry would hold a workshop in March aimed at reducing the dependency on contract workers.

She added the PNM had made an agreement with the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) prior to the election to look at the issue of contract workers.

JTUM signed a memorandum of understanding with the PNM to look at several issues facing the working class in T&T.

“The government can address contract workers in terms of the public service and we will also attempt to influence the other employers in the country to minimise their dependence on contract labour,” Baptiste-Primus said.

She said there was a Cabinet-appointed committee to look at the issue of contract labour.

“The whole principle of contract labour has gotten out of control.

“The principle of contract labour is having a clearly defined job to be done, giving someone a contract to do that job and when that contract comes to an end, then the person goes his or her own way but that has not been the case,” she added. 

She said contract labour had formed a parallel workforce.

“If an organisation, the nature of an organisation requires a particular function to be done on a continuous nature then there is no need for a contract to be given. That person should be hired as a permanent worker.”

She said the Government intended to keep faith with the assurances given and by the end of March would have a skeletal framework to move forward.

Baptiste-Primus held a two-day stakeholders consultation, which began on Wednesday, with the Co-operative Credit Union Movement on two controversial pieces of legislation. 

The legislation under review were the Co-operative Societies Amendment Bill of 2014 and the Credit Union Bill of 2014.

Both bills sought to treat the credit unions as a banking institution, a move protested by credit unions.

She said 300 representatives met to look at the bill on Wednesday and hoped they would come up with a framework and a justification for amendments that the ministry would have to make.

Baptiste-Primus also met with the labour movement, employers and business chambers on the advice of the Industrial Relations Advisory Committee.

The groups met to discuss the Industrial Relations Bill 2015, which she said brought unity between the trade union movement and the employers. 

“They both rejected the legislation as their was not enough consultation,” she said.

Further consultation is expected to take place next month.

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