Task force is welcome
Thursday, July 12 2012
The Chamber welcomes Government’s establishment of a Task Force with responsibility for the development and operationalisation of a social dialogue process in Trinidad and Tobago, and we are very pleased to have representation and be part of this initiative which was launched on June 26, 2012, at a workshop hosted by the Ministry of Labour, Small and Micro-Enterprise Development.
On October 31, 2000, the Business Sector, Labour and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago signed “Compact 2000 and Beyond”.
The objectives included sustainable development, maintaining a stable and collaborative industrial relations climate, productivity, competitiveness, enhancing the social security system and expansion of the economy. Compact 2000 was initiated in an attempt to ratify the ILO Convention 144 on tripartite consultations. Unfortunately, however, this Compact did not progress to full fruition.
Since then the Chamber has continued to advocate for a social dialogue approach to governance and has been calling on all relevant stakeholders to consider such an option whereby honest and constructive dialogue can take place and a dedicated commitment to a solution is arrived at by all. The Chamber is therefore hopeful that this revitalised effort to once again establish a Social Dialogue process will use some of the groundwork already laid by Compact 2000 to help chart the way forward.
In the 2011/2012 Competitiveness Index, one of the three “Most Problematic Factors for Doing Business” was “Poor work ethic in the national labour force.” The fact that this country needs to improve its work ethic and increase its productivity levels has undoubtedly been recognised by all.
However, a social dialogue process is not only about the labour environment but every facet that impacts on the country’s advancement, for example, crime reduction, another of the Chamber’s areas of national focus.
If, as stated by the Prime Minster, and supported by the Chamber, TT is indeed, “Open for Business” we must make a concerted and sustained attempt to collectively address all the issues that plague our efforts at competitiveness and attractiveness as a business investment destination.
In most countries which have made a serious commitment to a social compact arrangement, all parties have benefitted substantially, thereby clearly demonstrating that once the will is in place, the way becomes a powerful reality. As part of our representation on the Task Force, we are pleased to work with all stakeholders to strengthen and promote economic and social prosperity. With several efforts having been made over the years to establish a working relationship among the State, Labour, Business and Civil Society, it is our hope that this new effort will truly be the start of a long and lasting relationship-building process, with real agreements made that are enforced and followed through.
The responsibility to improve our competitiveness cannot rest solely on the shoulders of government; nor can any national ambition to advance our country be realized by antagonism and confrontation among the very parties charged with making it happen. It is imperative for all national stakeholders to genuinely come together to reignite our economy and society.
The Chamber reiterates its commitment to this Social Dialogue Process. We stand ready to once again meet with all relevant government, social and civil parties to advance the process and look forward to fruitful discussions. Let us all pledge to make TT the nation we can all be proud to call home.