Unless changes made, unions not returning to NTAC – says Annisette

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Unless changes made, unions not returning to NTAC – says Annisette

General Secretary of the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC), Michael Annisette, said proper legislation needs to be brought before the parliament before trade union leaders even consider rejoining the National Tripartite Advisory Committee (NTAC).

Speaking to members of the media Friday, after delivering a copy of the labour movement’s no-confidence motion against the government to THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine at the Division of Finance, Trade and the Economy, Scarborough, Annisette said: “We know why we left NTAC. And until and unless there is a genuine attempt by this government to genuinely engage the labour movement in meaningful discussions, we are not going back there. We would not be used as a PR stunt by this government,” he said.

“And I am saying too that we are of the considered view that the question of the NTAC must be legislated. It must be put in legislation so that the question of labour, business and government meeting at that level would be part of a legislation. That means the government cannot manipulate it as they see fit. And when another government comes in, they do something different.”

Annisette added, “You cannot treat us with that scorn and disregard and when we are there (in the NTAC) and we raise issues, there is nothing that has been done in the best interest of labour. Where is the legislative agenda that we have been asking for?

He said legislation can also prevent companies from simply shutting down, leaving workers without benefits.

“Do you know if a company closed down fully and is not operational, you are not entitled to any benefits?” Annisette noted.

“That’s a reality in Trinidad and Tobago in the 21st century. And no matter how we tried to put that on the table, do you know the Petrotrin issue we would have asked to raise that at that body? And the Prime Minister said no!”

He said such legislation already exists in other islands.

“Those are realities. So then we are not going to play that game. We are going to come back there (NTAC) when there is seriousness and when there is a willingness to really engage the labour movement in meaningful and genuine discussion for the betterment of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”