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Make it work

Published: 
Thursday, December 7, 2017

This newspaper welcomes the fact that two position papers on amendments to the country’s labour laws will be up for discussion when the National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC) meets again. It’s about time we have some serious and realistic discussions about industrial relations here.

Labour laws must be fair and must also make sure workers are neither exploited nor badly treated at the workplace. This should be read as a given.

However, it’s also clear that Trinidad and Tobago needs some radical measures if it is to attract investment and raise its productivity game to grow its economy. With the current legislation and culture, the chances of any gains in these areas are close to nil. In fact, if nothing is done, we will be heading towards even more mediocre productivity levels—a move bordering on the suicidal, especially as competition for investments and jobs around the world becomes even fiercer.

The key for a successful outcome of these discussions is how our unions will approach them. If they stick to the ‘take, take, take’ attitude, the chances of any significant progress will be small indeed.

The problem is, as they play the posturing game, other countries play the enterprising one. And they take our jobs and go, leaving our future generations scrambling for the ever-diminishing returns from the oil and gas industry.

Reforms do not need to be about a complete removal of controls, as that would be plain stupid. But they need to help us move away from a labour culture based on confrontation, lack of flexibility and unreasonable expectations. One day reality will set in—hopefully not before it is too late.

The naughty list

Especially as Christmas gets near, no one wants to make it into Father Christmas’ naughty list. The bad news is that, as far as the European Union is concerned, all of us in Trinidad and Tobago are in for a miserable holiday season.

Brussels included T&T on their first list of Non-Cooperative Tax Jurisdictions—a fancy name for a combo of 17 countries around the world they think ought to do more to make their controls tighter in the fight against money laundering, tax evasion and other tax-related peccadilloes.

It’s an odd bag of countries, ranging from South Korea to Namibia, with a few Caribbean neighbours thrown into the mix, too. And also some odd absent names, including a number of well-known tax havens.

At least for now, the list may not hurt much. But this may change. It can also dangerously place us further towards the position of outliers of the global economy.

The ten-year bat

Congratulations to T&T all-rounder Rayad Emrit on his recall to join the West Indies for their T20 internationals in New Zealand later this month. It’s been a long wait—a decade since the last time he was called up for ODIs in India.

We wish success to Emrit and the whole West Indies team as they prepare for their sting in New Zealand shortly. And that he does not have to wait another decade to repeat the feat.