The country’s approach to industrial relations must evolve, president of the TT Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) Christopher Alcazar, said yesterday.
“Lately, with the industrial relations climate being what it is, we see a very negative relationship between government and workers, and businessmen and workers,” Alcazar told the audience at the TTMA’s annual president’s awards, held at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain.
Citing the turmoil at state oil company Petrotrin, Alcazar said that with those workers and others facing job losses, “It appears that every employer, including us, is being painted as the enemy. I am here to say we are not the enemy, we are friends.”
“Don’t we more or less want the same thing? Fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay? To be treated with respect? Pay and be paid for performance? Don’t we want our doors to remain open and our employment levels up?
"Yes, I believe we all do. There are so many fundamental things with which we all agree. Why not sit and have rational logical and productive discussions without threats and retaliations?”
There was a time when nothing was needed more than trade unionism, he said, where worker protests forced the hands of those in authority to enact laws.
“Are our current union leaders and industrial courts cognisant of the context in which we all have to operate? Because I’m really not sure sometimes. There’s a need to reform how we come together to work out our differences regarding employers and employees. We cannot continue to operate in this manner and expect to be productive – downing tools, resting and reflecting, unauthorised strikes – this approach is just not productive,” Alcazar said.
Since it was a night to celebrate manufacturing, Alcazar praised the sector, one that despite its challenges continues to be a beacon of economic growth, as inspirations for the rest of the country.
Among the awardees was Anthony Sabga, founder and chairman emeritus of ANSA McAL, who died last year but was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Nestle TT Ltd was the Green Manufacturer of the Year, while Western Industrial Solutions Ltd won Excellence in Service, and Carib Glassworks Ltd was the Manufacturer of the Year (Large Category).