His comments last week may have been deemed "flippant" or "facetious" and created an outburst of emotion among different sections of the population but do not expect Finance Minister Colm Imbert to issue an apology.
Imbert's personality is not built to give apologies, said former head of the Public Service, Reginald Dumas.
"He will say he has nothing to apologise for."
When the Sunday Guardian asked Imbert if he would apologise for his comments, he did not answer yes or no but said, "As you can see, from your own newspaper report, the meeting went well yesterday (Friday)."
On Friday, Imbert met with the heads of trade unions and business groups. It was described as a positive meeting. However, Communication Workers' Union president Joseph Remy was reported to have said, "We await the minister to do what is the right thing, which is exercise some level of humility and accept the fact that he mis-spoke and he made a mess out of what the situation is."
According to the T&T Guardian, the unions and business groups were leaving room for Imbert to retract his statements made at an International Monetary Fund event last week.
The following was Imbert's response when contacted via email yesterday morning.
SG: Good Morning, Minister. I hope all is well. The unions have said they are waiting for you to retract your statements (Page 3 of the T&T Guardian). Will you do so? Will you make an apology?
CI: As you can see, from your own newspaper report, the meeting went well yesterday.
SG: The meeting may have gone well but will you issue an apology, Minister?
CI: Refer to my previous response.
SG: I have. However, I am asking you if you will issue an apology, Minister.
CI: Please refer to my previous response.
'He is who he is'
Dumas said while Imbert was intelligent, hardworking, and had vast knowledge of parliamentary procedures, it was a question of how he expressed himself.
"He reads his papers and he does his work...can't fault him on that, but it is really a question of how he expresses himself," Dumas said.
However, he said Imbert's personality, as seen over the decades, was one of essentially "talking down to people."
"It is who he is and I suspect he can't change. He was just being Imbert. He made a statement and thought it was funny and for a lot of people it was not a joke."
Dumas said there were procedures to follow regarding wage negotiations, which were carried out by the Chief Personnel Officer.
He said it was for the CPO, acting on the minister's instructions, to say 0-0-0.
"It's not for you because you are not negotiating with the unions. You instruct the person who negotiates but it is not for you to get up and say this is where we stand."
This, he said, triggered an uproar with the unions, and quite rightly so because there was a violation of normal negotiating provisions.
However, while he does not anticipate riots but perhaps a few marches, Dumas said the manner in which Imbert spoke was insensitive.
He said, "Imbert has always been a combative fella. He likes to fight...that has been his personality. He is not taking any foolishness from anybody...that's the kind of man he is but if it were someone else, they might say forget that, let's move on but Imbert has to lash back."
However, that causes problems in politics because politicians are in the public domain.
Asked if Imbert should apologise, Dumas said since ministers on the whole do not like to apologise, it was hardly likely that he would.
"If you apologise it means you are wrong and you know ministers are not supposed to be wrong."
About Colm Imbert
* A Member of Parliament for 25 years, winning his Diego Martin North/East seat on eight consecutive occasions since 1991;
* Graduated from the University of the West Indies in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering;
* Holds three Master's Degrees–Maritime Civil Engineering from the University of Manchester, UK; law degree in construction law and arbitration and oil and gas law, with a specialisation in oil and gas taxation.[NOT CLEAR WHICH IS THE THIRD DEGREE]
* Held the portfolios of minister of local government, health and tertiary education;
* Leader of Government Business in the House of Representatives between 2007 and 2010.