The regime governing dispute resolution provides for dispute resolution alternatives, including mediation and binding arbitration by way of the Arbitration Act and the Mediation Act. In 1996, a private sector organization, the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, established, and has since maintained, a well-respected Dispute Resolution Centre to foster training in mediation and to assist in the settlement of commercial disputes upon referral.
The Supreme Court has jurisdiction over all matters involving sums in excess of TT$15,000 (approx US$2,400), and can grant equitable relief such as acclamation injunctions and public law remedies. The Civil Proceeding Rules (1998) which govern civil litigation promote the use of alternate dispute resolution as an alternative to litigation.
T&T is a member of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), which facilitates conciliation and arbitration of investment disputes between contracting states and nationals of contracting states. It has also ratified the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, which facilitates the registration and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards between contracting states. The Bilateral Investment Treaty between the United States and T&T allows for alternative dispute resolution measures, including binding arbitration.
Labour relations are governed by the Industrial Relations Act (IRA). The Act provides the framework for the practice of industrial relations in T&T. It provides, inter alia, for dispute resolution through the Industrial Court, which is a court of superior record. The IRA provides for the mandatory recognition of trade unions when a union satisfies the Registration Recognition and Certification Board that it represents more than 50% of the workers in a specified bargaining unit. Approximately 22-24% of the workforce is unionized and there is a strong trade union tradition particularly in the oil and gas and utilities sectors.
Wages and salaries are generally competitive. There is minimum wage legislation that established the minimum wage of TT$12.50 per hour. Wages and salaries in the energy sector tend to be in the highest decile.
T&T has developed a strong tradition of high standards in occupational safety, health and environment matters. These areas are administered by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) which are the regulatory agencies created by the respective Occupational Safety and Health and Environmental Management Acts. Breaches of these acts attract sanctions including heavy fines.
OSHA practices are mandatory in all work places and T&T has a good safety record in the operation of industrial plants. Environmental approvals for large industrial projects and the quasi-judicial independent Environmental Commission adjudicate on contentious environmental matters. Companies operating in the oil and gas industry are also required to obtain the safe to work initiative (STOW) certification provided by the Energy Chamber of T&T.