Ex-assemblyman: End contract work in THA

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Former NAR assemblyman Max James speaks at a Labour Day march, from Gulf City Mall, Lowlands, to Scarborough, on Sunday. – David Reid

Former NAR assemblyman Max James has called for the abolition of contract work in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).

James made the call on Sunday at Gulf City Mall, Lowlands, Tobago, before a march to commemorate Labour Day. The event was hosted by the National Trade Union Centre.

Speaking on behalf of workers at the Tobago Agri-Business Development Company (TADCO), James claimed that 75 employees who had worked at the Tobago Cold Storage and Warehouse Facility, which was subsumed by TADCO, were promised that their services would be retained.

“Lo and behold, they gave them offer letters and then they decided to give them contracts,” James said.

He claimed a company official did not want the disgruntled workers to attend the Labour Day march.

“He wants to discipline the workers for holding a meeting on the compound. And he wants them to sign a contract in front of him without them even seeing the contract.

“But I want to ask all of the workers here today, ‘If a man comes into your kitchen to take away your lunch and your food, what you going to do?’”

James added, “The issues today are bread-and-butter issues – from the four per cent to terms and conditions of employment – and all workers must say a resounding no to the four per cent and the wickedness of this government in Tobago and in Trinidad.”

He said the workers must tell the THA to end contract employment.

“Contract employment must be abolished. What they need to do is to approach the central government and ensure that the workers be put into what is called contract of service. No more contracts.”

James, who said he was once actively involved in the Public Services Association and National Union of Government and Federated Workers Union, claimed TADCO employees with 25 years of service are being given job letters marked temporary.

“So you can’t go to the bank. They can’t go to the credit union because based on the merger of the companies, the workers are temporary after 25 years.”

He argued it was not the workers’ decision to tell the former PNM-led THA to merge the entities.

“If you give them a letter of offer saying to the workers your service is retained, then this thing that they call temporary on your job letter is really atrocious and cannot be accepted.”

James called on THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine, Deputy Chief Secretary Watson Duke and Secretary of Food Security, Natural Resources, The Environment and Sustainable Development Nathisha Charles-Pantin to look into the issue.

He said the Chief Personnel Officer Dr Daryl Dindial’s latest four per cent wage increase offer to public sector workers for the period 2014-2019, must be rejected.

“How do they expect workers to live on four per cent when things going up in the market on a daily.