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BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt JULY 27 • 2017
Keston Nancoo, the new chairman of
the Employers Consultative Associ-
ation (ECA), assumes this position in
the middle of very challenging times
in the country.
From an economic slump to a com-
bative industrial relations environment, the country
has its fair share of problems.
However, Nancoo believes there is hope.
"In the context of lower energy revenue, the central
government's fiscal position has worsened. However,
it is being projected that the T&T economy would
benefit from the coming on stream of new gas produc-
tion. This is specifically from bpTT's Juniper platform
which is likely to begin in the third quarter of 2017.
"This should boost natural gas supplies in the en-
ergy sector on the whole. However, one may wonder
if the 'good news' of the pending increase in natural
gas production may not be an inhibitor to other av-
enues of economic development as players await the
traditional upsurge in government revenues with its
traditional consequences," Nancoo told the Business
Guardian last Wednesday at his home, Arima.
Nancoo is group vice president, human resource
services at Guardian Holdings Ltd, and succeeded
Suzetta Ali as head of the ECA.
This is his second term at the helm of the organi-
sation, having previously served from 2011 to 2014.
He will now serve from 2017 until 2020.
The appointment was made following elections
at the ECA's 57th annual general meeting, which
took place at its conference and training facility in
Aranguez on June 29.
The ECA is an umbrella organisation and social
partner, representing all the major employers in
T&T and deals with industrial and employee rela-
tions matters among other issues.
Speaking on the traditional tumultuous relation-
ship between labour unions and employers, Nancoo
said constructive dialogue would go a long way in
improving the social situation and the economy.
"The ECA is committed to taking the lead in the
process to create a virtuous circle which recognises the
value of the power in the interdependent relationship
between key players in a tripartite process: employer,
labour and government. Financially profitable busi-
nesses can fuel economic growth which can lead to
the retention and creation of jobs."
"This should, and must, translate into the pay-
ment of decent wages and influence a better quality
of life for employees and, by extension, their fam-
ilies. Profitable companies contribute more to the
tax base of the country and the government benefits.
As the government benefits, they are in a position
to do more to facilitate more positive conditions for
business expansion and development opportunities
for citizens. The quality of everyone's life improves.
He said there has been limited success in the past
with social dialogue among labour, employers and
the government because the different stakeholders
at times believe they have different interests.
"I am of the view that parties to the conversation
do not demonstrate a shared common understanding
of what is meant when it is said, 'let's do this/that in
the national interest.' What really do we mean when
we refer to national interest given the fact that the
meaning of national interest is a vague and an am-
biguous term that carries a meaning according to the
context in which it is used?"
Nancoo added that this ambiguity hinders the pro-
cess of formulating a universally accepted definition.
For him, it is of even greater significance that so-
cial partners should be totally committed to a deep
discussion of the meaning of and components of na-
tional interest and, additionally, the significance of the
promotion of a culture and the institutionalisation of
the system of tripartism and social dialogue in T&T.
Nancoo spoke about other challenges that the coun-
try faces including groups that have not been part
of the traditional industrial relations environment.
"The challenges around youth employment and
underemployment continue to carry a very high so-
cial and economic cost. No longer can we afford to
ignore the grim challenges that we face as a nation.
Our nation's youth must be seen as an integral part
of the solution. Of even greater concern, is that they
are no longer prepared to carry a heavy share of the
burden resulting from policies formulated by the adult
generation. The disturbing truth is that quite a lot of
them are becoming disconnected from the political
process, fed up with systems that have no effective
answers for the job crisis."
Referring to crime, he said both blue- and
white-collar crime continue to affect the nations.
"Both forms of criminal activities increase the cost
of doing business which, quite naturally, will have
an impact upon economic growth and job creation.
There is to my mind an urgent need to rebuild the
confidence and trust in all our institutions."
Nancoo referred to T&T's national watchwords---
discipline, production and tolerance---and said these
will guide T&T back to economic and social stability.
"Discipline by social partners to commit to the
re-engagement process by not only remaining at
the table, but, most importantly, working towards
securing the best outcomes in the national interest
as would have been defined by social partners.
"Production should be to institutionalise in our
psyche the mantra: a fair day's work for a fair day's pay.
"Tolerance should be to demonstrate at all times,
tolerance towards what is different; and acceptance
towards the otherness. We cannot achieve a common
end if we pursue individual goals."
Social institutions must build confidence, trust
KESTON NANCOO, ECA chairman
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
would go a long way
in improving the
social situation and
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