President of the Industrial Court, Deborah Thomas-Felix yesterday called for the country to “collectively and urgently” address the root causes of crime and its impact on business and economic development and devise mechanisms to protect business owners and workers from these growing incidences of crime.”
She also called on the country’s trade unions to improve their ability to “clinically and thoroughly” analyse the financial reports of companies where they represented workers so they could have “a more panoramic understanding” of the company’s financial state and provide their members with “a realistic and comprehensive report...of what is actually taking place in the company and in so doing, better represent them.”
Thomas-Felix was delivering the address at a special sitting of the Industrial Court to mark the opening of the court’s Law Term.
She also called for improved dialogue between business and labour, saying this was the time “for all hands to be on deck.”
Thomas-Felix, later, welcomed the decision of the Labour Movement to rejoin the National Tripartite Council of Trinidad and Tobago (NTAC). She said, “These relationships should be aimed at developing strategies that can impact on the survival and profitability of businesses and the promotion of sustainable, equitable economic growth in Trinidad and Tobago.”
Speaking on economic inequality in TT, she said that as the country deals with the fall in energy prices and other challenges, “The gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening.”
Thomas-Felix talked about the possible link between poverty, inequality and crime, saying that crime and poverty have always been closely linked in this country, adding, “Despite our gains made in development, there is a shrinking middle class and an increasing number of poor citizens, including those who can be defined as the ‘working poor’–those who are employed but are still living below the poverty line.”
She said crime created instability and fostered a semi-permanent culture of fear among citizens.
“Critically, this instability and fear also permeate specific sectors, particularly the business sector as they depress the entrepreneurial spirit, incur tremendous costs in terms of security provisions, limit customer activity and purchasing power and work to generally prevent businesses from thriving, particularly small businesses.”
She said the country must “collectively and urgently address the root causes of this crisis.”