[ARANGUEZ, 24th September 2022]
This year marks a momentous one for our nation as we celebrated sixty (60) years of Independence – our Diamond Jubilee. On the heels of this significant milestone, we now observe our forty-sixth (46th) anniversary as a Republic. Indeed, this is no small achievement, and it is important that we reflect on and acknowledge the hard work, struggles and successes which have led us to this point, even as we look towards the future with renewed hope and optimism for a brighter tomorrow.
It was the late Dr. Eric Williams, upon declaring our freedom and cementing our self-governance having gained independence in 1962, entrusted us with three important watchwords: discipline, tolerance, and production. The significance of these words and their collective relevance to both nation and citizen alike must not be taken lightly. Then, as now, they are guiding principles for the development of ourselves and our society.
Our country has weathered many challenges that, at times, have literally shook the foundations of our society. But despite its challenges, this small and relatively young twin island state has been able to hold its own in the global arena. We remain a global player in oil and gas – despite the increasing volatility of the market, but more importantly, the quality of our human capital cannot be underestimated. We have produced world class professionals, master writers, musicians, and countless other creatives. Our athletes have carried our flag proudly across many world stages – most recently, the just concluded Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Our sons and daughters of the soil, though dispersed across the world continue to make their mark and have literally altered the course of industry, science and technology and world history.
The Employers’ Consultative Association of Trinidad and Tobago (ECA) was established two (2) years prior to T&T’s independence, and sixteen (16) years before becoming a Republic nation as we too were a part of the tide of growing national consciousness. This consciousness, along with the growth and strength of trade union solidarity, saw the need to establish an Association that would represent the interests of employers and match the strength of the trade union movement at the time. The growth and evolution of the ECA has been consistent with the evolution of our industrial relations system in T&T and since our inception, we have been privileged to be part of the process of our national development.
It is often easy to focus on our shortcomings as a society. However, dwelling on our deficiencies and casting blame instead of engaging in collaboration and critical conversations will only continue to perpetuate these deficiencies rather than contribute to finding the right solutions. The risk is that we advance nowhere. However, these conversations cannot happen if we isolate ourselves within our respective silos and refuse to carefully consider other perspectives.
In this regard, the ECA fully endorses the perspectives and admonition recently shared by the President of the Industrial Court, Her Honour Deborah Thomas-Felix, at the opening of the 2022/2023 Law Term when she urged social partners to “…work together to contribute to this nation’s further development. Step back from deeply entrenched positions that have borne no fruits thus far and take a leap of faith to embrace genuine consultation…”. The ECA is of the firm belief that social dialogue is both a process and tool for arriving at effective solutions but we must be open to engaging together, and having difficult, but necessary conversations. When our platform is burnt, on what basis do we stand and on what foundation do we build for the future? In this regard, we affirm our commitment to participating in, and promoting the process of social dialogue, both at the organisational and national levels.
While we are now engaged on this journey to recovery, and in this unprecedented era of global development, interconnectedness and growing competition we must be bold, innovative, and creative in charting our path towards sustainable, inclusive growth and development of our nation and its people. There is already capacity and boundless potential within and among us, but we need to have the will and desire to be better and do better, if not for today, but for future generations to come.
The ECA would like to wish our beautiful twin island nation a very Happy Republic Day!