The Employers Consultative Association of Trinidad and Tobago (ECA) is of the firm belief that any conversation around the relevance of the Industrial Court today must be viewed within the context of the role, responsibility and jurisdiction of the Court as well as our socio-economic realities.
As the largest and officially recognised employer’s organisation in Trinidad and Tobago by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the ECA continues to hold in high regard the role of all legislative arms of our country, inclusive of the Industrial Court. Moreover, in the promotion of equal opportunity and the advancement of equal rights for all citizens within a democratic society, the Industrial Court is a vital institutional partner for progress in this area. We cannot, on the one hand, say that we support equal opportunity, but on the other, fail to support an institution whose existence is to promote the principles of fairness and natural justice.
The ECA is of the firm belief that the role of adjudication in collective interest and individual rights disputes is a critical element of the ILO’s Decent Work agenda and encourages greater levels of responsibility and accountability on the part of employers, trade unions and employees.
Like other Industrial Courts and Tribunals around the world, our Industrial Court is bound by the principles of what is fair and just to all who may be affected by its decisions. This must be a consistent characteristic of the Court – to act in accordance with the principles of equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of any case before it, having regard to the principles and practices of good industrial relations (Industrial Relations Act, Section 10:3).
Relative to the question of the relevance of the Trade Union, the ECA believes that trade unions remain a vital component of any functioning industrial relations system. Admittedly, the ECA has repeatedly articulated that opportunities do exist for trade unions to modernise their “modus operandi” and therefore, their effectiveness, in respect of advancing labour and social policy. Additionally, the principle of tripartism demands that social partners – Government, Employers and Labour – work in tandem for the advancement of industrial peace, economic stability and better quality of life for all citizens. We must keep in mind that the Tripartite approach, enabled by meaningful social dialogue has been one of the key drivers in the economic progress of many developed countries around the world.
The question of reform and updating our labour laws is one that all stakeholders have all identified as necessary and in some cases, urgent. The ECA has repeatedly communicated that it is time for putting aside historical and ideological differences and for focusing on collaboration, not confrontation, in respect of facilitating the type of progressive changes to critical pieces of Labour legislation that will take us into the future we want to create for the current and next generation.
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Public Relations and Research Department