The National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) said the recent agreement by government to pay NCRHA workers 100 per cent of outstanding arrears for increments must not be seen as any sort of victory for the workers or the labour movement.
It said having negotiations settled two years or three years after the collective bargaining period has elapsed puts an unbearable burden on the back of workers and is contrary to the industrial relations act.
NATUC said workers should not have had to march to highlight government’s insensitivity and failure to address the issue of outstanding wages. It said the government’s failure to engage the union in discussions on the issue demonstrated arrogance and a unilateralism by the government which has no place in a modern society.
NATUC said many of the industries it represents are working on wages negotiated as far back as 2012 and in some cases 2007. These include Port Authority of TT; Pt Lisas Industrial Port Development Corporation; National Maintenance, Training and Security Company Ltd; daily paid workers of central and local government; statutory bodies inclusive of WASA; Regional Health Authorities; National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation; Port of City Corporation; Lake Asphalt (1978) Ltd; San Fernando City Corporation; Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies; and Port and Maritime Services Ltd.
NATUC said it believed there could be no justification for the delay in payment of the increments and outstanding wages and wants the general public to understand that the workers would have already worked for those wages.
It said some categories of public servants have been employed as contract employees for periods exceeding five years. A continued attempt by the government to unilaterally freeze workers’ wages as an austerity measure and condemn the untrustworthy move by government.
The union noted all its efforts at the level of the National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC) to raise and address the failure to conclude all outstanding negotiations involving the government and other government entities have been met with a deafening silence and indifference. It said the apathy being displayed at the level of NTAC had deeply alarmed and frustrated members.