JOINT CHAMBERS MEET WITH INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANISATION (ILO) TO DISCUSS IMPROVING INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ENVIRONMENT
The Joint Chambers – AMCHAM T&T, The Energy Chamber, T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, TTCSI & TTMA – met recently with a team from the Caribbean Office of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The ILO Decent Work Team was headed by Claudia Coenjaerts, Director of the Office of the Caribbean and included Dagmar Walter, Rainer Pritzger and Shingo Miyake. The Joint Chambers were represented by the CEOs of the respective organisations – Nirad Tewarie, Dr. Dax Driver, Catherine Kumar, Radha Permanand & Dr Mahindra Ramdeen – and Chair of the Joint Chambers Industrial Relations Committee Teresa White.
The meeting was requested by the Joint Chambers to get the ILO’s perspective on the current industrial relations (IR) climate as well as suggestions for improvement through the adoption of global best practice. In addition, the Joint Chambers took the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns on the IR environment.
Both parties agreed that T&T would benefit from stricter adherence to ILO Conventions to which this country is already a party. In this regard, some issues surrounding the rights of workers, including the right to access the industrial court directly as an individual, were discussed. During this discussion, the fact that the current conversation has resulted in minimal discussion of the responsibilities of workers was also raised, with both parties
agreeing that both workers’ rights and responsibilities need to be discussed concurrently as they go hand in hand in creating and maintaining an effective industrial relations environment.
Government’s creation of the National Tripartite Advisory Committee (NTAC) came in for some praise as all present expressed optimism that this mechanism will create an avenue for more regular, positive engagement among the tripartite actors. In this regard, the possibility of a Labour Code, expansion of the definition of worker, the efficacy of the Industrial Court, the tardiness in concluding collective agreements and the possibility of a Code of Conduct for discussions were also raised. Such a Code of Conduct could possibly involve something like an ILO publication on “National Tripartite Social Dialogue”, which would be a “guide” for improved governance.
Following the meeting, the Joint Chambers will be hosting a consultation with their members, with the support of the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business on 20th
April 2016 at the Yara Auditorium of the ALGSB. The event is being held to present and get feedback on the work the Joint Chambers have done on industrial relations legislation and improving the IR environment to enhance national competitiveness and create jobs. The ILO Caribbean Office will make a presentation at the consultation. Following this consultation, the Joint Chambers will make a joint submission to the Ministry of Labour & Small Enterprise Development by the end of April 2016.
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