Government Calls Union Boss Statement ‘Misleading’


OPM Statement: How Can There be a Moratorium on Something That’s Neither Occurring nor Planned?

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The Trinidad and Tobago government Friday said it was “very disappointed” that its efforts at engaging the labour movement are being undermined by “self-serving and misleading representation of the facts”.

In a press release, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) said that the statement attributed to the leader of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM), Ancel Roget that the government had planned mass retrenchment of public sector employees and “that this was staved off by Labour’s request for a moratorium on this action is absolutely misleading.”

The OPM statement noted, “It was always Labour’s contention that Government was engaging in mass layoffs even though that was not true and the Government was at pains to point out that Government’s actions were the opposite, meant to keep as many persons in employment even as the country’s finances posed a serious challenge to this objective.”

The statement said, “Notwithstanding this factual situation Labour insisted on asking for a moratorium until December on something that was neither occurring nor was it planned at this time.”

Roget, speaking to reporters following Wednesday’s meeting between government and trade union leaders, said they were able stop a lot of retrenchment the government had planned.

“And I can tell you they had quite a lot planned,” Roget said, adding that the trade union movement had agreed to return to the tripartite consultative process in exchange for a promise from Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley that there would be no more retrenchment of Government workers until the end of the year.

He said this included workers in all entities controlled by Government and any new plan to retrench workers after the moratorium expired would be brought to the National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC) for discussion, giving the trade unions an opportunity to put forward suggestions for avoiding the planned retrenchment.

But in the statement, the OPM said “the Government is very disappointed that its efforts at engagement with Labour intending to build trust and cooperation in the national interest can be so easily undermined by self-serving and misleading representation of the facts”.

There has been no response as yet from the trade unions to the OPM statement.