Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 17th 2017 Contents A18 news
guardian.co.tt Friday, March 17, 2017
ECA on TDC shut down:
Govt not consistent
Stories by ROSEMARIE SANT
Government's decision to dissolve the Tourism Development Company
without consultation with the representing Communication Workers Union
(CWU) has been described by Director of the Employers Consultative Asso-
ciation (ECA) Keston Nancoo as "not consistent with what is expected when
there is a partnership arrangement," and political analyst Dr Bishu Ragoonath
is suggesting that the Prime Minister must take decisive action and reign in
his ministers and not just take the position "we in charge now."
The ECA is one of the private sector groups which sits on the National Tripartite
Advisory Council (NTAC). On Tuesday all three trade union umbrella organisations
NATUC, Fitun and JTUM, which sit on the council announced their
decision to suspend the attendance of the trade union movement in any
NTAC meeting because "no consultation was held with the CWU" on
the decision to dissolve the TDC.
General Secretary of NATUC, Michael Annisette, told the
Guardian that the decision by the trade union bodies was
conveyed to the members of the council at their meeting
on Tuesday, following which an advisory was sent out to
Chief executive officer of the American Chamber of In-
dustry and Commerce Nirad Tewarie, who was at the NTAC
meeting when the announcement was made, told the T&T
Guardian: "I don't think anybody was expecting that move,
but we understand and accept it is their prerogative."
He said, "we empathise and
understand why the unions
feel as they do. But we regret
that they felt it was necessary
to withdraw from NTAC. We
hope the issue is resolved soon."
Tewarie said, "continuing
the dialogue is important. We are
hoping that there is resolution and
we could have everybody back at
the table soon."
Nancoo said he felt that the
council "was the place to raise their
concerns." He said, "while organisations would have a
right to determine where they should or should not be,
to take yourself out of NTAC, what you are in fact giving
up is the opportunity to have the kind of discussion that
could make a difference."
But he said it is clear that based on "what is in the
public space," on how the issue was handled "the process
by Government is not consistent with what is expected
when there is a partnership arrangement."
Nancoo explained that having a partnership arrange-
ment "will not stop you from doing what you feel you
have to do, but there is need for a more collaborative
approach to deal with these matters."
Nancoo suggested that the Tourism Minister, Shamfa
Cudjoe, should "arrange a meeting with the President
of the trade union (Joseph Remy) and try to have a one
on one." The minister, he said, may want to concede that
"it could have been done differently."
Political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath said the onus is now on the
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley "to take decisive action and reign in
his ministers and tell them what they should do and how they should
do it. They cannot just take the position that we in charge now," he
said in reference to the position adopted by Cudjoe shortly after the
Government assumed office.
Ragoonath said the decision by trade unions to suspend participation
in the Tripartite Council is an indication that "they have realised that
the honeymoon period they gave the Government has come to an end,
and they are concerned with the inability of the Government to treat in
a controlled way with economic challenges and rising unemployment."
It is because of these issues he said trade unions realise that they
have to "take a stance now which will indicate to their membership
that they are standing up for the workers they represent."
Ragoonath said while dialogue with the union is necessary he agreed
with Cudjoe that the decision taken by the Cabinet should not be
rescinded "it would put the Cabinet in a poor light if they reverse the
decision, it would suggest that they are being swayed by the whims
and fancies of people outside of the Cabinet."
But the issue he said must be addressed, "so that they may not over-
turn the decision to close the TDC. But they may want to alter the way
forward, think of ways to bring these entities back into operation and
make sure that the union is on board with them."
Labour consultant Robert Guiseppi said the decision by the trade
union groupings to suspend participation "is a progressive move."
He said the council "is supposed to be an indication that there is de-
mocracy in the Industrial Relations system. Democracy demands that
each partner is equal."
Controversy over teacher
elected to THA
A legal battle is brewing between the Tobago
House of Assembly (THA) and the minority Pro-
gressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) over elected
minority assemblymen Farley Augustine.
Augustine won the Parlatuvier/L'Anse Fourmi/
Speyside seat for the PDP led by Watson Duke in
January's THA election. However, there is a growing
controversy over the fact that he did not resign his job
as a teacher before being sworn in as an assemblyman.
Senior State counsel for the THA, Alvin Pascall, said
that is a contravention of section 15-2 E of the THA
Act which states: "A person not being a citizen of The
Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is disqualified from
being elected or appointed as a Member, or being a
citizen if he---holds, or is acting in, an office of the
Assembly by virtue of Part VII."
Pascall referred to section
7:75 section of the Act titled
Appointment on Contract
which states: "Subject to
the guidelines prescribed
by the Government in re-
spect of the employment
of persons on contract, the
Assembly may appoint on
contract such persons as it
Augustine's attorney, Mar-
tin George, said the admin-
istrator of the Division of
Education and Youth Affairs
had been asked to point out
which legislation his client
is alleged to have breached.
"Once they do that then
we can analyse it and make a
rational decision," he said.
George said Augustine worked
in February and while
everyone else was paid
he was not paid.
"He is wondering
whether he has been
singled out," he said.
comment on the mat-
ter, THA Chief Sec-
retary Kelvin Charles
told the T&T Guardian:
"Because of the nature
of the issue it would be
inappropriate for me to
Watson Duke said Au-
gustine is being unfair-
ly targeted. He claims Secretary for
Health, Agatha Carrington, contin-
ues to lecture at UTT and owns or
manages a geriatric home.
"Based on that alone she should
not be an assembly woman," he said.
The PDP leader added: "When
Shamfa Cudjoe was in the Senate
she was working with YES and
Nadine Stewart was in the Senate
and working with the Division of
Charles said there was no simi-
larity since Carrington has resigned
from the UTT.
"I don't know that she is paid by
the UTT," he said, adding that the
two others were senators.
Duke said in response: "You cannot
say that because a man is an assem-
blyman he cannot work. The job of an
assemblyman is not a full time job."
He compared it to Parliament say-
ing members of the Opposition do
their other jobs and attend to their
constituency office and Parliament.
Pascall said: "You cannot be an
assemblyman and a teacher, because
teaching is a full time job."
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