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During the period 1960 to 1964, Trinidad and Tobago was plagued by a number of strikes by workers and lockouts by employers which affected the economy. The Government's answer to the problem was the Industrial Stabilization Act 1965. This Act was "to provide for the compulsory recognition by employers of Trade Unions and Organizations representative of a majority or workers, for the establishment of an expeditious system for the settlement of Trade Disputes, for the regulation of prices of commodities, for the constitution of a Court to regulate matters relating to the foregoing an incedental thereto."

The Industrial Stabilization Act 1965 was repealed and replaced by the Industrial Relations Act (IRA) 1972 with effect from 31st July 1972. The Industrial Court is establishment under Section 4(1) of the Industrial Relations Act and consists of two (2) divisions: the General Services Division and the Essential Services Division. Additionally, there is the Special Tribunal established by the Civil Service Act, Chapter 23:01. The Special Tribunal consists of the Chairman of the Essential Services Division of the Industrial Court and two other members of that Division selected by him\her.

In 2006, the Occupational Safety and Health Division was established within the Industrial Court for the efficient exercise of its jurisdiction under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 2004 (as amended in 2006).

The Industrial Court is a Superior Court of record with the jurisdiction-

  • To hear and determine trade disputes;
  • To register collective agreement and to hear and determine matters relating to the registration of such agreements;
  • To enjoin a trade union or other organization or workers or other persons or employer from taking or continuing industrial action;
  • To hear and determine proceedings for industrial relations offences under the IRA; and
  • To hear and determine any other matter brought before it, pursuant to the provisions of the IRA.

The Industrial Court is also required to deal with matters under:

  • The Minimum Wages Act Chapter 88:04
  • The Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act 1985
  • The Maternity Protection Act 1998
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act (2004)

The Court is comprised of twenty-two (22) Judges, a President-who is the Head of the Court, a Vice-President, a Chairman, Essential Services Division and nineteen (19) members of Court. The Members are persons drawn from among the following disciplines:

  • Persons who are experienced in Industrial Relations
  • Persons who are economists
  • Persons who are accountants and
  • Persons who are attorneys at law with not less than five (5) years standing.

With the exception of the President of the Industrial Court, all judges of the Court are appointed by instrument of appointment by the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on the advice of the Cabinet. In respect of the President of the Industrial Court, he is appointed by instrument of appointment by the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on the advice of the Chief Justice.

For administrative purposes, the Court is divided into thirteen (13) Divisions. They are:

  1. Office of the Registrar
  2. Registry-North
  3. Sub-Registry-South
  4. Office of Economic and Industrial Research
  5. Library - North and South
  6. Reporters - North and South
  7. Information Technology Unit
  8. Accounts
  9. Office Management
  10. Secretarial Unit
  11. Human Resource Unit
  12. Security Unit
  13. Records Management Unit

The staff attached to the above offices are public officers and contract officers. Public officers are all appointed by the Public Service Commission except the Registrar and Assistant registrar who are Attorneys, and must be appointed by the Judicial and Legal Service Commission.