Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 16th 2013 Contents BG6 NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt MAY 2013 • WEEK THREE
Food production and recycling are but
only two of the businesses started by entre-
preneurs with assistance from the National
Integrated Business Incubator System (IBIS).
Speaking at the October 2011 launch,
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said
IBIS is a viable mechanism for new and
advanced opportunities for wealth creation
and poverty alleviation.
"From an entrepreneurial perspective,
the introduction of IBIS comes at a time
when our country is in need of an increased
"I believe that entrepreneurs are vision-
aries. They seize opportunities. They
observe. They listen. They don't take any-
thing for granted and they are not afraid
Managed by the Ministry of Labour and
Small and Micro Enterprise Development,
IBIS has disbursed loans amounting to $31.4
million with 62 graduates spread across
several business incubators, said Michael
Gordon, manager, Enterprise Development
Division, Ministry of Labour.
Gordon said IBIS obtains funding from
the Government and has spent $16 million
since its launch.
"The intent is while they (entrepreneurs)
are growing their business, we continue to
provide the support and help them resolve
their issues so over time, they would get
the experience of running their businesses,
but also gain from the expertise from those
who would have already been in the pro-
gramme," he said.
There are two types of programmes in
the incubator system. One is the commu-
nity-based incubators, which is entrepre-
neurship at the community level.
The second is the is the commercial incu-
bator where "there is a greater emphasis
on the high value/profit business ideas
which can create products for export.
"In other words, we focus on interna-
tional competitiveness in the commercial
incubators. We have one commercial incu-
bator we are working with right now. Actu-
ally, we are starting one with the Arthur
Lok Jack Graduate School of Business."
Another incubator being looked at is the
"They would be identifying those very
innovative export potential clients, focus
them, and help them to expand and grow."
The highest amount of funding a business
entity can obtain is $100,000 in loans with
a payback period of ten years, depending
on the project.
"It is really intended on providing them
with some kind of foundation that they
require and to have it running successfully.
The focus is more on looking at the product
and the business idea.
Incubators are soon to start in the Laven-
tille, Barataria/San Juan areas, Diego Martin,
Chaguanas, Couva and Point Fortin.
$16m in 18 months
Dr Rollin Bertrand, managing director, Trinidad Cement
Ltd (TCL), said the Oilfield Workers' Trade Union's
(OWTU) 92-day strike in 2012 was nothing short of
an "assault" on the company. Last year's bitter strike
has put the company at "rock bottom."
Production was crippled.
The entire economy was affected.
The solution: TCL and the union must collaborate to move ahead,
Bertrand blamed the intransigence of the OWTU for what took
"We now have to find a way to extend an arm and work towards
an improved relationship with the union because at the end of the
day, we must survive," he said.
"In a globalised environment facing the challenges and competition,
we will not survive."
"A few years after (Labour) Minister (Errol) Mcleod and I were on
a podium at a hotel as part of the Promotion of Management and
Labour Co-operation (PROMALCO) of the International Labour Organ-
isation (ILO) project promoting labour management relations. TCL
was cited as one of the organisations within the region that was a
good example of labour relations. If you go across the region to all
TCL's subsidiaries, it is same thing. Despite that, we had the most
spectacular strike in 2012 that saw violence on a criminal level. For
92 days, we had to withstand an assault," he said.
Bertrand said the breakdown in the labour relations was more than
an industrial relations matter.
"I keep telling people, in my view, that strike was not about TCL,
if you examine the lead up to that strike, most of the employees in
TCL requested that there not be strike action. In fact, some of the
bargaining units wrote formally requesting them
to submit the matter before the Industrial Court.
"The management of the company had many
meetings with the employees trying to explain
the difficult situation the company was under.
We had just declared a moratorium on principle and interest to our
lenders. The company's back was against the wall. We were facing
receivership. We were expecting that our partners who we had worked
with for many years before, under the leadership of McLeod, to under-
stand the position," he said.
Although the company was and still is in a very difficult position,
management negotiated and offered the best possible settlement it
was allowed to give.
"Despite the fact that the company was in such a difficult position,
we still put six per cent on the table as a show of good faith. All of
that came to nought, but we have tremendous experience in human
resource and industrial relations matters."
Bertrand said TCL "defended" the company from the union's attacks.
"We had to defend the organisation for 92 days and these matters
are still before the court. They will be resolved in the natural course
of that process," he said.
Bertrand was speaking at the T&T Chamber of Industry and Com-
merce's seminar, titled: Bridging the Labour Divide, on May 10 at the
chamber's Westmoorings building.
Labour Minister Errol McLeod, who was also part of the discussion,
gave the example of the "nationalistic" approach OWTU took in 2005
in helping to save the cement industry for Caribbean people.
He was at the time OWTU president.
"When there were attempts by a big international conglomerate to
swallow up TCL in little T&T and Barbados and Jamaica, the union
which I led at that time could not, as a union, save TCL from that
threat. I then got the go ahead from the union's executive for OWTU
to purchase important shares to go to the shareholders' meeting and
help decide the direction of the company. This was done in 2005,"
McLeod said it is unfortunate the present leadership of the OWTU
has moved away from this philosophy.
"I have difficulty accepting the big divide, the chasm that exists
now between management and the trade union. I know there is a lot
of belligerence on both sides," he said.
Bertrand said TCL also took "coaching and guidance" from McLeod
as he was one of the "architects" of a successful relationship between
the union and employers when he was OWTU president.
"TCL, as a spectacular breakdown of labour/management relation,
is an interesting case study. We are trying to put together the events,
the lead up, what happened during the strike as many people want
to know how we survived that very difficult time," he said.
McLeod then added that OWTU and TCL must work together to
turn around the company's fortunes.
"I do not understand how workers can be properly represented
when their union refuses to talk with the management."
Dr Michael Maccoby, director, Maccoby Group
in the United States and an international expert
on labour relations who was the feature speaker
at the seminar, said there must be collaboration
among the different sectors to maintain a competitive economy.
"You are going to compete in the global market. It is essential to
raise the whole level of effectiveness. What could get by even ten or
15 years ago is not going to succeed now. The best companies are con-
tinually improving and learning. They are becoming learning organ-
isations. If you look at my colleagues who work with companies like
Shell, they are always learning and improving productivity," Maccoby
He warned that if the different groups, like employers and unions,
do not work together on improving the country's competitiveness, it
could be "disastrous."
"T&T has to decide that it is going to raise this level. You have
national champions who cannot be in an old-fashioned adversarial
type of relationship. It is not going to work. It could be disastrous,"
He spoke about his meeting with OWTU's executive and Petrotrin's
"I met for four hours yesterday with the union's leadership and
they have all kinds of ideas for improvement. They said they have all
kinds of ideas for the company that is not paid attention to. But
Petrotrin's management, on the other hand, said the union does not
respect them. However, they must put aside their past injustices and
raise their game," he said.
Maccoby said the Government has to bring in outside expertise that
can assist in raising the level of discussion and dialogue among the
He refered to his book, Agents of Change, and the work he did with
AT&T and other international companies.
"On Tuesday, I had a leadership workshop with 18 of Petrotrin's
top managers. The problem is that some of the most productive com-
panies internationally do not have unions and are doing it all by them-
selves. If you have a union, you have to better engage the union."
Based on what he has seen for the week he was in T&T, Maccoby
said the labour and employer relationship is "going in a bad direc-
"When you have an oil and gas industry that is 40 per cent of the
national income, you had better take very seriously its competitiveness
and its productivity," he said
One year later...
Labour Minister Errol McLeod, left, and international labour relations
expert Dr Michael Maccoby. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
The highest amount of
funding a business entity
can obtain is $100,000 in
loans with a payback
period of ten years,
depending on the project.
Links Archive May 15th 2013 May 17th 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page