NATUC General Secretary Michael Annisette

The number of people fired ort go from their jobs during the COVID- 19 pandemic is far greater than the numbers in the Ministry of Labour report. That’s according to NATUC’s general secretary Michael Annisette.

On Monday, Minister of Labour Stephen Mc Clashie confirmed the ministry had been notified of 1,891 persons being sent home in 98 retrenchment notices.

Mc Clashie, however, noted that based on the law the number could be greater, as companies are only required to inform the Ministry if five or more people are retrenched.

“The law provides that it if you are sending five people and more you are supposed to notify the Ministry. The law doesn’t speak to people who may be temporarily laid off which is not a retrenchment exercise because in law, retrenchment is a surplus of labour for whatever cost and you get rid of the surplus of labour. But you can temporarily lay off people for as much as 3 months,” said Annisette.

He suggested the government may have to look at the employment records at restaurants, casinos, gyms and other places that had to shut down operations because of the pandemic.

“The restaurants and them they are series of issues because they couldn’t employ anybody, let us look at the casinos, the casinos had issues. Let us look at the gyms and them,” he said, “They are big employment businesses and they were affected by the shutdown and I’m and therefore that wasn’t captured in The Minister’s report and what we are saying in the National Trade Union Centre, those realities must be captured.”

Annisette explained there were other variables concerning unemployment in this period, as he also said consideration must also be given to parents, single or married, who have had to forego work opportunities due to the closure of schools.

“Another reality is that there are some workers who are single parents or who are husband and wife who are working and there is no mechanism to take care of their little children they are forced to stay home without getting a pay,” he said.

The NATUC general secretary said that legislation may be needed to address these issues, as he called for employment insurance for workers in case there would be another full lockdown period.

“The retrenchment act doesn’t govern those kinds of realities so that the figure from the trade Union perspective and I’m talking for NATUC is much much bigger. It has impacted negatively on several workers in Trinidad and Tobago and more so the single mothers and the single parents and them are being immensely affected by the lack of appropriate legislation to address those realities that I mention.”