MINISTER of Labour, Stephen McClashie, in a Labour Day 2021 message, said that while the Covid-19 pandemic has drastically affected the way of life in T&T, it has not diminished our human spirit and will to survive.
He said, “The significance of Labour Day this year is accentuated in the face of the unprecedented times in which we are required to operate where all sectors of our economy have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and all persons in the labour force and their families have been affected both directly and indirectly.
“The Ministry of Labour lauds the hard work, determination, humility, selflessness and resilience of all employers and employees, but particularly those persons in the essential services who continue to work tirelessly to keep our nation in good stead during the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic.
McClashie added, “Many persons and families have been affected by either loss of life or loss of income and, in some cases, by both. In this vein, the Ministry of Labour and by extension the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, stand in solidarity with you, as we continue to provide social and economic support to affected citizens and residents of our nation.
“While we are doing our best to manage change in the world of work, we recognise that labour, as well as the business sector, is also being challenged to meet the increasing need to revolutionise its business models, embrace digitalisation and technology and invest or reinvest in human capital development in light of economic realities and the modernisation thrust.”
He praised the efforts of the people of Trinidad and Tobago during the pandemic.
He said, “We continue to applaud your many efforts. While we are caught in the midst of managing a whirlwind of change in the world of work and tend to look at the current situation at a macro level, I wish to take a moment to focus on the individual…the individual employee and employer who are required to adjust their mindsets and behaviours and to manage change in their own lives.
“These include managing new forms of work like remote work, juggling greater work and family responsibilities and trying to sustain businesses and retain jobs while at the same time coping with the mental and psychological stresses of the pandemic. While we take care of our physical health, I encourage us to pay close attention to our mental health and well-being and seek the necessary assistance that is available to assist in building individual resilience to the turbulent tides of this pandemic.”
The trade union movement and labour are now at an important cross road, he said, one that requires greater confluence with stakeholders in the labour sector.
“The task at hand is to rebuild our economy and society from the onslaught of the pandemic. We need to get people back into decent and sustainable jobs, to get businesses back onto a sustainable path and to manage the drastic shifts in the work environment. This requires strategic direction and united action by all. The need to rebuild has been fully endorsed by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and as a constituent of the International Labour Organisation, we support the call to ‘build forward better’.
“We must not strive to restore pre-pandemic levels of development and growth but aim for higher levels, both individually and as a country.
“In ‘building forward better’ as a nation, I encourage the trade union movement and business to join with us through the process of social dialogue to bring about the necessary changes we wish to see in the world of work. The time for reticence and divisiveness is behind us,” he said.