MSJ abhors demotion of women after birth

Sati Gajadhar Inniss, first vice president of the OWTU speaks to the media at Woodford Square, Port of Spain on June 5. - Photo by Faith Ayoung
Sati Gajadhar Inniss, first vice president of the OWTU speaks to the media at Woodford Square, Port of Spain on June 5. - Photo by Faith Ayoung

SATI Gajadhar-Inniss, first vice-president of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) has hit out at employers who demote women on their return to work after maternity leave.

She spoke to reporters at a briefing in Woodford Square, Port of Spain on Wednesday. It was held by the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) ahead of the party distributing leaflets on workers’ rights in the run up to Labour Day on June 19. With her were MSJ head David Abdulah and OWTU general secretary Ozzie Warwick.

Abdulah said some companies tell female workers who return to work after giving birth that they can re-apply for their substantive positions. He said, “The law says a woman who is pregnant is entitled to return to her job.”

The Maternity Protection Act 1998 (section 7(1)) says, “Subject to this act, an employee is entitled to (a) leave of absence for the purpose of maternity level (b) pay while on maternity leave; (c) resume work after such leave on terms no less favourable than were enjoyed by her immediately prior to her leave.”

Gajadhar-Inniss said, “As comrade Abdulah would have said, when our women get pregnant they are sent home and when they return to the job they either have to apply for a new position or actually have to take up some menial job instead of returning to their (substantive) position.”

Gajadhar-Inniss claimed this wrong occurs across the board, even in big companies. “A lot of times when they return to their job they have to go back and do some other job other than what they were working at. That is wrong.

“You are entitled, after your 14-weeks (maternity leave) to come back and return to your substantive position.” She offered tips for a woman who had not yet accrued her full contributions to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).

“If you are living with someone, you could get a donor to give you some of the points required to make your full benefit.

“So there are things that could be done, but you have to be educated about it.” Gajadhar-Inniss said employees must be treated fairly in their workplaces, such as if requiring time off due to illness. “Sisters and our young people in general, find a trade union! Do not wait until it is too late and something happens for you to come and join a trade union.

“Become part of the working class in society that you could be recognised and treated fairly. Love live the trade union movement!”

Abdulah used his address to weigh in on official criticism recently levelled against parents whose alleged neglect of their children has contributed to the upsurge in violent crime.

Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher recently said, “The truth is, with all the police can do and will do, there is no effective substitute to proper parenting. Proper parenting is the core of addressing the root causes of many of our problems.”

Abdulah began by saying the MSJ, if in government, would provide day-care facilities to assist parents and provide paid time-off work to attend PTA meetings.

Lamenting the recent chiding of parents, he said some parents work from 6 am to 6 pm, making it very hard to attend a PTA meeting.

“How could they attend a PTA meeting?” he asked, lamenting the criticisms recently levelled at parents.

“How could a parent who is worked from six to six, who leaves home at four o’clock in the morning, hustling transportation, and getting back at eight o’clock (8 pm), how are they able to take care of their children in the way they ought to?” Abdulah said blame over child neglect lay with the economic system and its exploitation of workers, not parents.

“The anger and frustration that workers are going through, in traffic for two hours, all of that is causing a lot of frustration for workers.”

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"MSJ abhors demotion of women after birth"

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