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Unions query McLeod's boast

...of healthy labour climate

By Renuka Singh

The Joint Trade Union Movement yesterday challenged Labour Minister Errol McLeod's year-end assessment of the current labour environment.

The amalgamation of trade unions, led by Oilfields Workers' Trade Union president general Ancel Roget, said McLeod's calculations regarding the number of settled negotiations were incorrect.

"We want to say that his assessment of the environment is not correct because he is reading a calm where there is a boil and that is perhaps of where he is," Roget said at a media conference at the Transport and Industrial Workers Union hall in Laventille.

"There are a number of issues and we want to take the position that not until all is settled, all is not settled and therefore we cannot leave any behind," he said.

Roget said even though McLeod "boasted" recently that Government had settled over 100 negotiations, there were many outstanding, including The University of the West Indies (UWI) and Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL) which are still before the courts.

He said there was also the issue of unsettled negotiations for postal workers, workers in financial institutions including First Citizens and Republic Bank Ltd, National Petroleum, Petrotrin, Powergen and the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission.

Negotiations for the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC), Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT), Hilton Trinidad and several others are still outstanding.

"We dispute (the number of negotiations that are settled) so it would be good to do the research to determine the exact amount of negotiations that were settled and settled with the influence of the Ministry of Labour and or the government. If those that we broke the five per cent cap are counted then the maths is incorrect," he said.

The JTUM has promised that 2013 "would not be a quiet year" and described the current lull as the "calm before the storm".

"The JTUM is ready to continue its relentless struggle to advance and defend its members and the people of Trinidad and Tobago in 2013," he said.

Roget said there were a number of new activities that the JTUM will be taking part in, but did not detail those plans.

"Some movement will take place," he said.

The group said chief among their concerns was the workers agenda and called for the immediate disbanding of the Public Sector Negotiating Committee (PSNC), constitutional reform, an increase in public spending on health, a repeal of the Retrenchment and Severance Benefit Act and amendments to two sections of the Industrial Relations Act.

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