2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Trinidad and Tobago
|Publisher||International Trade Union Confederation|
|Publication Date||9 June 2007|
|Cite as||International Trade Union Confederation, 2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Trinidad and Tobago, 9 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52ca0732.html [accessed 20 June 2013]|
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182
There was no change in Trinidad and Tobago, where strong restrictions, including heavy penalties, are imposed on the right to strike.
Trade union rights in law
The 1972 Industrial Relations Act (IRA) allows workers to form or join unions of their own choosing and establishes the right of collective bargaining. The law also provides for the mandatory recognition of a trade union when it represents 51 percent or more of the workers in a specified bargaining unit, once this has been verified by the Registration, Recognition and Certification Board (R.R.C.B). Teachers and public servants are excluded from the scope of the Act, but are covered by separate legislation.
Heavy limitations on the right to strike: Industrial action is strictly regulated by the IRA which stipulates that strikes may only be over unresolved "interest" disputes, i.e. concerning the formulation of terms and conditions of employment. Strikes are banned in essential services, which are too broadly defined by ILO standards, including, for example, the public school bus service. Strikes can also be prohibited at the request of one party, if they are not declared by a majority union or when the government considers that the national interest is threatened. There is a penalty of up to six months' imprisonment.
Members of the teaching service and employees of the Central Bank are prohibited from taking industrial action, with a penalty of up to 18 months' imprisonment.
Bargaining restricted: Collective bargaining is restricted by the requirement that, to obtain bargaining rights, a union must have the support of an absolute majority of workers. Furthermore, collective agreements must be for a maximum of five years, and a minimum of three years, making it almost impossible for workers on short-term contracts to be covered by such agreements.
EPZs: The same labour laws apply in the export processing zones as in the rest of the country.
Trade union rights in practice
The government has consistently refused to amend its legislation on essential services and collective bargaining to bring it into line with ILO Conventions.
Despite the restrictions on the right to strike, there were a number of industrial disputes during the year.
There have been problems over union recognition, due to the slowness with which the Registration, Recognition and Certification Board operates. Trade unions have called for a revision of the legislation on this but so far without result.