|File: Labour Minister Errol McLeod|
The former labour leader was speaking in Parliament in the budget debate. He urged labour union to do a better job of representing their members.
“Let me advise that trade unions and their leadership must begin to better articulate the interest of their members, their workers and that of the society in which we live,” McLeod stated.
"We have to see the national interest,” he said. “We must know that the strike weapon is a most important weapon...So we must know when to strike. When we take action, Mr Speaker, such action should not end up being punitive to the very people whom we claim to be serving,” the minister added.
McLeod specifically mentioned the lengthy strike at Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL), which he said persisted because the union decided to "shutdown the place and not listen to very reasonable advice that is given."
McLeod added, “The TCL strike was an error of great magnitude in Trinidad and Tobago.” And said as chief conciliator in that matter “there are some things which I will not even say to this Parliament because I want at all times to not just be impartial but to also appear to be impartial.”
The minister defended his government saying he is not aware of any attempt by the People’s Partnership Government “to stultify the growth of the trade union movement (and) to stifle popular protest.”
He explained that the Government has been seeking dialogue in the interest of the workers, employers and the entire country but noted that "there will continue to be those who will not readily accept our word and who might well go on a course that might end up being destructive."