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Unions: Don’t blame workers for low productivity

Sunday, January 21, 2018
Arima Mayor Lisa Morris-Julian, from left, Chairman of the Statutory Authority Service Commission Christopher Thomas, Minister of Local Government Kazim Hosein and Superintendent Glen Charles look on as police officers examine application forms at the recruitment drive for Municipal Police yesterday, at Arima New Government Primary School.

Union leaders say workers are not to be blamed for the low productivity in the work force.

President of the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) Vincent Cabrera, Leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) David Abdulah and Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus spoke to the Sunday Guardian about what trade unions and the Government can do to engage workers to be more productive in a declining period.

Vincent Cabrera

Cabrera said he did not believe that workers’ attendance rates are to blame for the lack or fall in productivity in the economy.

“When a businessman in particular talks about productivity, he’s speaking about labour productivity. There is something called capital productivity. Is anyone talking about whether the level of capital productivity in T&T is at an optimal and acceptable level? Think tanks and universities are not looking at labour and capital productivity again; they’re looking at Total Factor Productivity (TFP).”

TFP is the measure of the output of an industry or economy relative to the size of all of its primary factor inputs. Increases in TFP result usually from technological innovations or improvements.

He said the country cannot develop a culture of work if management was absent or missing and then blamed workers when they came late if there was no management system in place.

Cabrera said the Public Service was vilified, most of the people the public came into contact with were “green” or very entry-grade public servants. He said the really well-trained people working hard behind the scenes, right up to the position of Permanent Secretary, are not usually seen by the public.

David Abdulah

Abdulah, former Chief Education & Research Officer and General Secretary of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union and former president of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs, said the party’s position was that the issue of work and productivity were not simply the responsibility of trade unions or workers alone.

He said national discussions were needed about a whole range of matters that had an impact on work productivity.

Abdulah said some of the challenges to workers’ ability to get to work on time included traffic and transport problems, crime and security, lack of water had nothing to do with trade unions or workers.

He said what also had to be discussed was transforming the culture of the country in terms of having a sense of responsibility which had to start at the top where leaders take no responsibility for matters that take place.

Abdulah said if a person going to work does not feel his labour, input and ideas were deemed valuable and respected, it will impact on the effort he puts in.

He said the education system was also not producing outcomes to the demands of the labour market as it was disappointing for university graduates to be cashing in fast food restaurants because they can’t get jobs to suit their qualifications.

Labour Minister

Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus said that it was a very important issue which must be addressed by all parties.

She said the relevant forum to discuss was at the level of the National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC) and the council had already begun to address the issue.


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