Although in the early 20th century, oil replaced sugar as the major export of TT, it did not solve the problem with unemployment, said Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, Minister of Labour and Small Enterprise.
Addressing stakeholders today at the 20th National Stakeholder Consultation on the Employment Exchange Act at Radisson Hotel, Port of Spain, Baptiste-Primus said when the sugar industry declined and slavery and indentureship ended, unemployment became widespread.
“This was coupled with bleak living and working conditions in the colony of TT in 1900. The working population sought opportunities in other islands of the Caribbean and many migrated to the neighbouring territories.
“This massive migration resulted in a labour shortage on the island just around the time this ordinance was introduced. At the same time, those who remained on the island continued to demand work, adult suffrage and ultimately called for the self-governance of TT.”
She said the presentations will highlight the various ways the ministry considers the act needs to be amended and updated.