Kamla re-affirms partnership with labour
PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday re-affirmed her Government's partnership with the labour movement, two days after losing coalition partner and labour-based party, the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ).
In her Labour Day message, the Prime Minister emphasised the People's Partnership's strong relation with labour, manifested most visibly in Labour Minister and former president of the Oilfield Workers' Trade Union (OWTU), Errol McLeod.
Last Sunday, MSJ head, former senator and former head of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and Non-governmental Organisations (FITUN), David Abdulah, announced his party's exit from the five-member coalition Government.
Persad-Bissesar said yesterday the PP remains committed to the advancement of the labour movement.
"Your Government today reaffirms its pledge to protect the rights, enhance the benefits and improve the comfort of workers," Persad-Bissesar said.
"We must, however, govern fairly and responsibly in the interest of the entire nation. This means, that, as we govern, the greater good must never be sacrificed for political expediency or partisanship.
"Even in the midst of challenges, labour is and will always be a partner to this Government. Our commitment to respect and honour the participation of the labour movement in the governance process remains."
Persad-Bissessar, in a statement issued to the media, highlighted her Government's victories for labour, including the settlement of 36 negotiations that were outstanding for years prior to the Partnership taking office.
The Government also raised the minimum wage from $9 to $12.50 per hour, she pointed out, and repealed the Masters and Servants Ordinance, an old colonial law that guided a disadvantaged relationship between employer and employee.
The PM added that the Industrial Relations Advisory Committee was appointed to consider and recommend to the minister areas of the Industrial Relations Act for amendment and modernisation.
The Maternity Protection Act was also amended to increase maternity leave from 13 weeks to 14 weeks, Persad-Bissessar said.
"With 75 years of vibrant trade union history, and 50 years of our nation's independence serving as a backdrop to this commitment, let us work together to build a strong new relationship and identify more progressive and amicable ways to express our concerns and resolve issues," she stated.
As we commemorate Labour Day 2012, your Government expresses full confidence that all parties can arrive at a point where the interests of the workers and the nation can be advanced simultaneously and this gives us cause for celebrating the occasion across the nation."