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Fitun: Victory for labour movement

Published: 
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

President of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (Fitun) Joseph Remy said the interim settlement between the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) and Petrotrin is a victory for the labour movement.

“If the Government had been successful in its 0-0-0 offer that would have spelt doom and gloom for the trade union movement,” he said.

“The OWTU has scored a victory for the trade union movement by breaking the Government’s wage freeze policy. By standing firmly on its position, the OWTU has ensured there will be no wage freezes across the board. I commend the union for standing firmly in the face of a barrage of public condemnation and criticism and not accepting a wage freeze under any circumstance.”

Remy said under the circumstances, Government’s offer of five per cent is fair. He said there seemed to have been some level of listening on the Government’s part and commended both parties for finally reaching a resolution

The OWTU, which had been threatening to strike and shut down the country, came under heavy condemnation from economists, business chambers and the public in general who warned of dire economic consequences for T&T if oil workers went on strike.

Also weighing in on the settlement yesterday was National Trade Union Centre (Natuc) general secretary Michael Annisette who said there were no winners and no losers in the matter.

“If at the end of the day T&T is a better place, then I am happy,” he said

Annisette said the settlement showed that T&T has the capacity and ability to work things out when parties come to the table and communicate. He criticised “ivory tower economists and members of the business community” for painting the OWTU as unpatriotic, saying the law gave the union the option to strike as a negotiating tool.

“How then, could they have been unreasonable?” he asked.

Annisette said there is now a divide between business and labour and there is need to build bridges and trust once again.