The International Labour Organisation (the United Nations agency that advances economic and social justice) has made it clear that an employer cannot arbitrarily alter a worker’s terms and conditions of employment
Yet the dictatorial PNM Government virtually amended such terms and conditions of public sector workers without reference to the registered trade union and the negotiated collective agreement.
The government has done so with respect to the directive that public servants be vaccinated for Covid-19 – or be denied their hard-won salaries and other benefits.
That is why United National Congress is proactive on this issue and would support all legitimate and productive measures to rebuff the autocracy of the Rowley regime.
Our research has found that in democracies around the world, progressive administrations have held meaningful discussions with stakeholders, and with trade unions, in particular.
In Trinidad and Tobago, the tyrannical PNM Government assigned its highly-discredited Attorney General Faris Al Rawi to hold nominal talks with unions after the decision had been publicly announced by the Prime Minister.
As expected, the dialogue was unproductive, because of the Government’s intractable approach and Al Rawi’s lack of people skills and inability to create consensus.
This anti-worker stand is part of an ongoing pattern of PNM administrations in oppressing employees through repressive legislation (in particular, the Industrial Relations Act), absence of minimum wage increases, lack of advances on maternity benefits and other measures.
Over the years, PNM regimes have also cracked down on worker gatherings (most notably the 1975 march for “Peace, Bread and Justice”), jailed trade unionists and assaulted workers.
The UNC stands against such repression, and while we support Covid-19 vaccinations, we insist that there be purposeful negotiations with workers’ official representatives.