MSJ: Government should have taken wage advice from its own board

MSJ leader David Abdulah. - PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB
MSJ leader David Abdulah. - PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB

IF Government had taken the advice of the Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB) since 2016, the three cycles of outstanding negotiations for public-sector workers could have been settled and would not now be an economic nightmare.

In making this claim, Movement for Social Justice political leader David Abdulah, who was part of that committee, said it had given advice on the National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC) and its function as it related to wage negotiations.

“The Prime Minister did not even acknowledge the recommendations of EDAB on how NTAC should have functioned.”

Had that been done, Abdulah said at a news conference on Sunday, “Certainly the 2014-2016 negotiations could have been settled in a tripartite manner.

“What is the point of NTAC?” Abdulah asked in reference to Government’s recent invitation for the unions to come back to the table, under this umbrella, for continuing the contentious negotiations

Government moved from a two per cent-four per cent wage offer to public-sector workers and the national security bodies, which have been rejected by their representing trade unions.

The Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) is expected to make a statement on this final offer on Wednesday morning.

Abdulah slammed Government’s anti-labour position, saying for the past seven years, under the Dr Keith Rowley administration, “not a single piece of labour legislation has been brought and passed.

“Waste of time, Minister of Labour (Stephen Mc Clashie).

"You are not doing your work, Prime Minister. As leader of this country you could have taken this country in a different direction, in a positive direction when NTAC was established, if you had taken the advice of the EDAB."

In addition to failing to follow the recommendations of EDAB, Abdulah said Government also refused to act on the recommendations of the Road Map for Recovery committee, which it set up.

He said the recommendations of these and other committees could have led to the economy's being in a better place, instead of putting the burden of adjustment on people at the lower end of the economic scale.

He referred to the Lashley Committee on Petrotrin's restructuring, which he said Government ignored, sending all workers home and shutting down the refinery, which has left TT without energy security and with foreign exchange shortages.

Abdulah also defended his integrity against claims by Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales that Abdulah had no moral authority to make recommendations about WASA, when he was part of the PP administration when the Desalcott contract was renewed.

He labelled Gonzales an “upstart” and said he was “fast and out of place” to question his integrity, when Abdulah took the "moral high ground" in 2012 by leaving the government amidst allegations of corruption.”

He denied making recommendations on the transformation of WASA, as that was not his area of expertise.

“I have been around for a long time,” he said, pointing to the many boards on which he served, including the Cabinet-appointed committee looking at the restructuring of the ADB.

“My minority report saved the ADB,” he said, telling Gonzales, “When you get a little bit of that experience in this country, come and talk."

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