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Letter: Fixing labour in Trinidad and Tobago
Published on April 18, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

It has been over five years and spanning two administrations and to date no one can get the workers at the Licensing Department on Wrightson Road to work for a full day.

The labour situation in Trinidad and Tobago is in a terrible place. Working conditions are substandard, wages are inadequate and production is low. This cannot be allowed to continue. There are laws governing employment and working conditions that determines whether they acceptable or unacceptable. Good or bad working conditions cannot be acceptable for part of the day, every day for years.

Our labour laws govern wages and salary negotiations and allows for action by either side to ensure that an acceptable agreement is achieved. No government, employer or small business should be at the mercy of unscrupulous labour leaders nor should employers be allowed to exploit the labour sector.

The labour climate in Trinidad and Tobago is unfair to employers, employees, businesses, investors and government. It is as if in Trinidad and Tobago there are no labour regulations. It is not unusual to see labour leaders who walk into offices with a megaphone and stop work at will. At any time, workers can take a day of rest and relaxation at the behest of their labour leader.

At many major companies, public and private, there are so many individuals assigned to one task that the entity cannot ever be profitable. For example, a WASA or T&TEC utility connection costs much more in personnel time than the cost of the connection. When one adds the cost of equipment and material the possibility of breaking even is impossible.

In the government sector, regardless of the political entity in service, all the supporting work needed for the implementation of government policy are assigned to an apathetic, demotivated public work force. It is not unusual therefore for a government to spend five years in service with excellent plans and very little to show in way of completed tasks. Simply completing the paperwork to assign a contract or process a payment can take months or years. Corruption and bribery has become the norm in accessing basic government services.

We are in a competitive world and unless we produce at international standards we will be left behind. The people whom we depend on for our food, clothing and shelter are only here because they can profit from the endeavour. At any time, if we remain uncompetitive they can all take up their platforms, investment dollars, expertise and equipment and go.

There is need for fair wages, improved working conditions and restructuring our job descriptions through up to date job evaluation exercises. This will entail voluntary separation of employment packages, closing unproductive sectors of government services, restructuring the management of our nation and updating our labour legislation. The present structure helps no one.

God bless our nation.

Steve Alvarez
Reads: 3259

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