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Energy Chamber denies colluding with Govt to fire workers

The trinidad Guardian / The Energy Chamber has denied accusations that they are colluding with the Government to effect a programme of mass retrenchment.

Although retrenchment in the private sector has occurred within recent times, they said, “Individual companies have unfortunately had to retrench workers given the extremely challenging economic environment, but at the same time other companies have actually increased their labour force over the past two years.”

Acknowledging competition in the private sector had led to staff changes based on a company’s particular circumstance, the Energy Chamber, through the joint chambers group, has made it clear they support the reform of the Retrenchment and Severance Benefit Act, and had submitted detailed proposals in this regard.

Reaffirming its commitment to the National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC), the Energy Chamber maintained, “The trade union movement left NTAC because they believed there had been insufficient consultation over the closure of TDC. There were no specific discussions at NTAC on private-sector retrenchment.”

A release from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) last week described claims by Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) leader Ancel Roget that trade unions were able to stop Government’s plans of mass layoffs by requesting a moratorium, was misleading.

In fact, the OPM said Government had no such plans for mass retrenchment and meant to keep as many people working, even though the country’s finances meant this would be challenging.

They said union leaders insisted on asking for a moratorium until December, but it was not something that had been planned.

JTUM later responded by claiming the OPM’s statement constituted a malicious and frontal attack on the integrity of JTUM’s leadership and the entire trade union movement.

JTUM said the Government’s remarks was carefully calculated to reduce the significance of the moratorium on retrenchment .

They have now accused Government of creating an issue where there was none before, just days after JTUM agreed to rejoin the National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC).

JTUM claimed it left the NTAC as they believed, “Without any discussion, both the government and employers had joined together in the retrenchment of workers even while the Labour Movement was a part of the tripartite body.”

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