...State intervention must be 'cautious'
Labour Minister Errol McLeod says State interference in the ongoing industrial unrest at Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL) and its union—the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU)—must be exercised with extreme care.
"State interference in such private negotiations could place one party at a disadvantage over the other and must of necessity, be exercised with extreme care," McLeod stated in a full-page advertisement today.
There have been widespread calls for McLeod to intervene in the strike action which have been plagued with bouts of violence.
And while he condemned "all reported acts of violence in this matter" as well as the hoarding and profiteering by some retailers of cement McLeod said: "These factors, however undesirable do not by themselves constitute a threat to the national interest."
"Moreover, TCL's statement regarding the availability of cement as result of importation from its subsidiaries and its resumption of production, provide assurance that there is sufficient product available to prevent any major disruption of the construction sector," he said.
McLeod observed that it was wholly dependent on the parties whether the Minister intervenes in the dispute under Section 61 of the Industrial Relations Act.
"The provisions of the Act do not give the Minister coercive powers over the parties involved in collective bargaining, in a dispute of this nature," he said.
McLeod said he has met with both parties and prefers to engage in dialogue which he's hopeful will bring about a settlement of the dispute.