UNC Senator Wade Mark

The Opposition believes the Government’s intention is to eliminate all trade unions to gain maximum control.

During a press conference held on Sunday, Opposition Senator Wade Mark said not only has Government negatively impacted the OWTU after rejecting its Patriotic Energies and Technology Ltd, but workers of the Port of Port-of-Spain who fall under the SWWTU will also be impacted.

“What is emerging in this country is very troubling. Billions of dollars are involved in this port exercise and we have 1600 workers whose jobs are jumping up in the air,” Mark said.

He added that over the years Government has not invested any money into the port to ensure its continued viability.

Mark said Government has also failed to see the port as a transhipment hub which can generate many opportunities.

“The port is under a lot of threats because of this decision to privatise it,” Mark added.

He also accused the Government of launching a “frontal assault” on the collective bargaining process, saying under the ILO Convention Government cannot take it upon itself to not engage in collective bargaining with public-sector unions.

This, Mark added, is not practical.

“The Industrial Relations Act is very clear because there is a process at arriving at collective arrangements. The Minister of Finance said Government is not giving any directions or instructions to the CPO to meet with public sector unions so what are these unions to do,” Mark said.

He added workers have been receiving 2010 salaries but “paying 2020 prices.”

The Opposition also accused Government of failing to protect the lives and livelihood of workers.

Mark also accused the Government of not delivering on its promises of grants and loans to the citizens.

The Guardian reached out to Labour minister Stephen Mc Clashie who refuted Mark’s claims of unions being negatively affected.

Mc Clashie said Government has shown its willingness to work with unions and business alike but said there are a number of difficult discussions on the table, especially with the Petrotrin matter and the pandemic.

The minister reiterated that Government was not targeting anyone, adding that its goal is consensus building.