The prime minister’s position was made known at a press conference on Tuesday evening following the meeting.
She disclosed that, although every issue on the labour unions’ agenda as outlined in the Labour Day accord and sent to her in their letter was discussed, and her assurance there is no five percent cap to negotiations, the meeting ended with the teams returning to “square one” wanting her to remove the five percent cap.
Persad-Bissessar stressed that she could not negotiate.
“I indicated to them there is no five percent cap and the unions should go back to the bargaining table with the management of the respective employers and start from fresh at the bargaining table…start from zero.”
She said while the “unions may well take industrial action as they are entitled to do” government had contingency plans in place which she didn’t think should be shared, especially as government intended to keep the country up and running.
“I have no reason to doubt otherwise or to believe there is going to be a national strike. There may be a strike of some workers but not a national strike,” she said, pointing out there are 32,000 public servants and 4,000 WASA workers who fall under the Public Services Association (PSA), which had settled negotiations.
Persad-Bissessar also expressed confidence in the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, saying, “I have faith and confidence in the people and citizens of this country…good sense will prevail and the majority of persons want the country to succeed and do well and at the end of the day those persons will determine what direction we go in.”