Labour Minister commends trade union movement

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Labour Minister Stephen Mc Clashie. – File photo

On the occasion of Labour Day, Labour Minister Stephen Mc Clashie saluted members of the trade union movement who continue to advocate and stand in solidarity to demand that the rights of all workers be upheld in all spheres across this country.

In a release, the ministry said over the years, the trade union movement fought valiantly to ensure that workers can enjoy their rights and reap the benefits of decent work and industrial peace.

It said the movement continues to demonstrate its mettle, strength and determination by being the voice of the marginalised and vulnerable within the working class.

The ministry said in keeping with its strategic objectives of labour administration and the provision of employment opportunities, it continues to recognise the importance of fair wages, safe working conditions and equal opportunities for all.

Mc Clashie said he continued to invite trade unions back to the table in the spirit of tripartism.

“Although we are not at the greatest in our relationship, TT continues to enjoy industrial peace, thanks to the collective maturity of government, labour and employers who recognise the importance of dialogue, difficult conversations and hard decisions.”

The release listed some of the measures taken by the government to assist workers.

The first was the $3 increase in the minimum wage. It said beginning January 1, no worker should be receiving less than the hourly wage of $20.50.

“This equates to $164 for an eight-hour workday, $820 for a 40-hour work week, and a monthly rate of $3553.33. This $3 hourly increase benefits approximately 190,000 workers who are employed across TT within supermarkets, hardwares, bars, hotels, restaurants, warehouses, gas stations, among other establishments, as well as those employed as security officers and domestic workers. When calculated, these workers will receive a $520 increase in their monthly income, amounting to an increase of $6,240 in annual income.”

Other initiatives included the revision of labour legislation, conciliation and mediation services, implementing the National Helpline for Sexual Harassment (800-CAAD) in March 2024, and completing the Job Vacancy Survey of the private sector and state enterprises, which will be launched in the upcoming months.

He said Cabinet had recently approved the expansion of the farm programme, which will allow the establishment of a physical presence of ministry staff in British Columbia as well as strengthening the labour liaison branch by an additional four people dedicated to pursuing the expansion and employment opportunities for nationals of TT. Over the past four years, he said, the ministry, through its Farm Programme Unit, has been able to place over 2,000 local farm workers on farms in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia in Canada.

Mc Clashie said further to the stakeholder consultations on amendments to the Occupational Safety and Health Act and its regulations, which the ministry held in collaboration with the Occupational Safety and Health Agency, policy positions papers for the amendment of the act along with five policy papers related to the draft safety and health regulations, were submitted to Cabinet.

The minister called on the public to express their gratitude to all those who labour diligently, selflessly and with pride.

“The Ministry of Labour is committed to upholding its tenets of decent work, industrial peace and opportunities for all. Let us stand in solidarity with one another, united in our efforts to build a better, more prosperous TT for generations to come.”