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Wednesday 14 November 2018
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NTAC's work slow but sure

Minister hails labour's return to tripartite committee

Welcome back: National Tripartite Advisory Council chairman Camille Robinson-Regis greets Vincent Cabrera, president of the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU), as members of the labour movement return to the council at Eric Williams Financial Complex, Port of Spain on September 20, 2017. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI.
Welcome back: National Tripartite Advisory Council chairman Camille Robinson-Regis greets Vincent Cabrera, president of the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU), as members of the labour movement return to the council at Eric Williams Financial Complex, Port of Spain on September 20, 2017. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI.

COREY CONNELLY

Progress within the Cabinet-appointed National Tripartite Advisory Committee (NTAC) has been slow but sure.

This is the view of Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis, who has chaired the NTAC since its inception in 2015.

The NTAC comprises representatives from Government, labour and private sector.

“I think things have been slow in coming but since the return of labour to the table, I think all of the parties have been very committed to seeing NTAC be successful,” she told Sunday Newsday.

Robinson-Regis said in order to streamline the work of the NTAC, the chairman of the Mediation Board held a day-long session with members exploring the benefits of working as a unit.

She said this has augured well for the development of the committee.

“That has worked very much in our favour but I must say that all parties to this committee have been very committed to the success of this committee..”

The minister said, however, there were differences of opinion with respect to a call for the establishment of a guaranteed fund, set up by businesses, to pay employees after they have gone into receivership.

She said NTAC was also at variance on calls for employees, who have lost their jobs, to be reconsidered if and when businesses resume operations.

“But we expect that at the next meeting of the committee, a firm position would be taken and then presented to the Cabinet.”

In the interim, Robinson-Regis said the committee has been attempting to adhere to its mandate “because I think in the first few months, we were trying to find our way and make sure we knew what our mandate was.”

She added: “The mandate has been very specific and we have been adhering specifically to it and really making the effort to try and achieve the mandate that has been set for us by the Government.”

Robinson-Regis claimed since labour’s return to the NTAC, they have been meeting consistently.

She said the committee has worked together on two major issues, productivity and work ethic.

“We are now working on the Severance Benefits Act and the Industrial Relations Act and are in agreement on quite a number of issues.

“We have had a meeting with the financial sector to deal with certain specific issues where we had a variance of opinion and we thought that the financial sector, which would include the banking sector, the credit union sector, to come in, sit with us and discuss the issue of severance, the time to pay workers who may have been severed.”

She said within recent times, the work of the committee was becoming more in depth.

NTAC, she said, has established a series of teams, one of which was being led by Vincent Cabrera, president of the Banking Insurance and General Workers Union, one led by Dr Terrence Farrell and the other, led by Employers Consultative Association chairman Keston Nancoo to address productivity.

She said another group was addressing issues relating to industrial relations and severance benefits.

Robinson-Regis said the next meeting of NTAC would be held next month.

“We did not have one this month because several of our partners went to the ILO (International Labour Organisation) conference and that was a tripartite conference.”

She said Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus and other representatives from the labour sector attended the event.

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