Annisette: Labour wants genuine engagement with Government

Monday, December 30, 2019 - 13:15

General Secretary of the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC), Michael Anisette, believes Government’s efforts to decriminalise marijuana should have been put behind the labour movement.

Speaking on CNC3's The Morning Brew, today, Anisette said the working class does not see such haste and commitment when it comes to their issues.

“Where is the haste to implement that kind of legislation that will protect the working class?” he asks.  “But within weeks we have legislation passed for marijuana.”

As he reviewed the state of labour issues in 2019, Michael Annisette also touched on employment for migrants. He said NATUC is concerned that government brought 16,000 people into a system that doesn't work for its own people.

From May 31st to June 14 this year, Government granted Venezuelans a one-year amnesty to work and live in this country. Mr Annisette also questioned why only Venezuelan nationals were given the amnesty.

“You are bringing in thousands of workers in an economy where the institutions are falling apart,” he points out. “Where the national citizenry cannot go to the hospital and get services on a timely basis, or they cannot get medication. How do you justify adding more people on a service that is not operationally efficient for your citizenry?”

Michael Annisette said as 2020 approaches, the atmosphere between the Government and trade unions is not a good one as government has not met with unions even though they are duty bound to do so. he said unions do not want a meeting just for show, but a genuine one.

He says government needs to re-think its position of ignoring workers and unions demands for a return to the collective bargaining table and settling outstanding negotiations.

The NATUC general secretary says government has consistently refused to honour the social compact and engage with labour on a way forward for the T&T economy, which has been facing tough times for the last several years.

According to Mr Annisette, government’s refusal to treat with labour and settle workers agreements has hurt and not helped the country’s bottom line.

“When you starve workers of wages, you are, in effect, starving the economy of the ability to buy the very goods and services that are necessary to keep your economy going,” Mr Annisette argues. “There’s a study that shows that a wage-led economy and a job-led economy are what is required in circumstances where your economy is contracting.”

He says that if the banks and several other organisations can make profits in this economy, then that’s an indication we aren’t managing our resources as well as we should.