In the current economic environment, employers and the labour movement must address contract and other forms of non-standard employment, Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus said yesterday.
"Given recent developments on the economic and labour fronts, particularly with the growing spate of retrenchment, issues pertinent to employment and decent work must assume greater prominence.
"Contract employment has been a growing and burdensome issue that many have been speaking about but little action has been taken to facilitate genuine dialogue and serious examination of this issue in T&T," she said.
Baptiste-Primus spoke yesterday at the Ministry of Labour's workshop on contract employment at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre, St Ann's.Before the workshop began, members of the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) led by secretary general Michael Annisette protested outside the main entrance of the Hilton Hotel.
They said the protest was to highlight the plight of workers at Caribbean Crewing and Manning Services Ltd which provides tug boat services at the nation's ports.After the protest, Annisette joined a panel discussion at the workshop.
Baptiste-Primus, who said contract employment is prevalent in the public service, told workshop participants: "One of the early actions taken by this Government since assuming office has been the establishment of a Committee on Contract Labour.
"The members of this Committee include representatives from the Office of the Prime Minister, the Chief Personnel Officer, the Director of Personnel Administration, the Ministry of Public Administration and the Ministry of Finance. This Committee, which is also part of today's workshop, is no doubt very much interested in the discussions which will assist it in making recommendations to move forward in regularising the employment situation of many workers in the public sector."
The minister also referred to the International Labour Organization's (ILO) 2015 Report which spoke about the growing trend of contract labour around the world.
"The ILO, in its World Employment and Social Outlook Report 2015, noted that there has been a global shift to more insecure jobs, from the traditional employment relationship to more non-standard forms of employment, since the financial crisis of 2008/2009 which fuelled growing inequality and higher rates of poverty," she said.
"The Report revealed that it is estimated that only a quarter of the world's workers, that is one in four workers, are on permanent contracts with the remaining three quarters employed on temporary or short-term contracts, working informally often without any contract, are self-employed or are in unpaid family jobs."