Several unions have collective agreements to be settled with the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO). Trade unions have said they are eager to start negotiations but the CPO has not scheduled the meetings.
In response, Ramooglam said the People’s Partnership Government hoped to “sort things out” so there will be a more structured approach to negotiations and dealing with workers and there will not be the episodes which have been taking place. The Public Services Association has staged two large demonstrations over the past two Tuesdays, the days when it met with the CPO Stephanie Lewis at her office, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain.
Ramgoolam said, “My approach is to make people happy. If you are happy you are producing.” Unhappy workers took more sick days, stayed home or when they were at work did not produce as they should, she said adding the relationship between employer and employee cannot be like a “master and slave.” Ramgoolam said human resource and industrial relations should be more in harmony and no longer a confrontational approach.
Ramgoolam said TT has had a history of negotiations taking very long and being behind time. “We would like to see negotiations start a year before.”
A source told Newsday yesterday the CPO wrote to ministries regarding staff absent on the days the PSA had demonstrations. Ramgoolam said she was certain the CPO was not trying to get the names of anyone. She questioned what the CPO could do with thousands of names. “Public officers know the laws that govern them and take appropriate action.”
She said the CPO may be trying to get an idea of the levels of absenteeism because productivity was affected. Ramgoolam said, “Productivity is an issue we have to be concerned about.” She said the cost of absenteeism was felt not only by the public but also public officers as they too were “private citizens” and their families. She told Newsday she would be “totally shocked and surprised” if anyone was asking for names. “The victimisation approach to managing people, it has to stop.” She said Government was committed to dialogue in resolving outstanding negotiations.
“You have to keep the dialogue,” Ramgoolam said regarding the negotiations between the CPO and PSA. The Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex continued to be affected by staff absenteeism yesterday.
Clinics and elective surgeries were cancelled. However, the Intensive Care Unit and paediatric hospital functioned as normal.