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Name boards now to avoid trouble at ports

Published: 
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Natuc head warns Govt:
President general of the Seamen and Waterfront Trade Union James Lambert, left, National Trade Union Centre president Michael Annisette, president general of CAGWTU Aynsley Matthews and representative of Port-of- Spain Regional Corporation workers Kenny Audian address the media on Friday. Photo: Rishi Ragoonath

National Trade Union Centre (Natuc) president Michael Anisette is making a thinly-veiled threat about a possible Christmas shutdown of the ports of Point Lisas and Port of Spain, in the absence of negotiations for a new collective agreement.
Anisette sounded the warning in San Fernando on Friday, about the outcome, if the Government did not immediately appoint boards which he said were delaying the start of overdue negotiations.
“You know the port is the heartbeat of Trinidad and Tobago, where all the goods and services pass through and goes through,” he said.
“There is a growing silence, uneasiness among dock workers over the failure of the Government to put a board in place so that we can start our negotiations in earnest.
“A word to the wise is sufficient,” the former senator warned.
Anisette sat in as an observer to joint negotiation for the period 2008-2010, between Contractors and General Workers Trade Union (CAGWTU) and the National Union of Government and Federated Workers (NUGFW), with representatives of the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO).
He explained this was a strategic decision taken by Natuc to lend support to all daily- paid workers, under their umbrella, at their respective negotiations.
“Because a blow to one is a blow to all,” he said.
At the start of negotiation, held at City Hall, San Fernando, Anisette said not only at the port, but at the Institute of Marine Affairs, Lake Asphalt and several other state enterprises and public sector companies , negotiations were in limbo because the Government had appointed no new boards.
Anisette, president of the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union (Swwtu) said the date of the last collective agreements for these companies had expired.
“We are now entering another three-year agreement and to date these workers have not had the opportunity of concluding their negotiations, notwithstanding the effort of the SWWTU to engage the line minister into discussion.”
Anisette demanded that all boards must be put in place now.
 He also rejected the five per cent wage offer put forward by the CPO, saying: “It does not make sense, given the economic realities we are faced with.”
Anisette said their analysis clearly demonstrated that core inflation, over the three-year period in question, had risen at a rate of 4.5 per cent.
“So the offer of offer of five per cent does not address the workers’ purchasing power,” he said.
“For an economy to function, for an economy to grow, workers must be able to purchase the goods and services...If you take away that purchasing power by offering workers inferior wages, it means you are interfering with the economy.”
Anisette also called Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the business community to meet with Natuc so they could formulate a process and system that spoke to the realities that workers and the country were facing.

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