THE NEW TODAY is taken aback by the betrayal of the Working Class by those two representatives of the Grenada Trade Union Council (GTUC) sitting on the Board of Directors of the state-controlled National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
It is simple quite mind-boggling that Mr. Bert Patterson of the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) and Mr. Kenny James of the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) would keep away information from workers of this country on the virtual hijacking of EC$10 million from the scheme by the government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
These two individuals kept their mouths shut for over a year and left the Working Class in total ignorance of the manner in which the NIS financial purse was raided by the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration to take away the money with no intention to pay it back.
This is enough reason for the workers of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique to call for the immediate resignations from the NIS board of both Patterson and James for poor representation of their interests.
No credible excuse can be presented in an attempt to gloss over the colossal failure of the two union representatives for colluding with the government-appointed members of the board on this EC$10 million issue.
The likes of board members such as Chairman Christopher Husbands, Dr. Bert Brathwaite and Dorset Cromwell to promote the interest of the government on the board is surely their prerogative as they were selected to serve at the beckoning of the government of the day.
However, the mandate of Patterson and James are quite different as they are mandated to serve on behalf of the Working Class.
THE NEW TODAY gets the impression that the two TUC representatives believe that they are there on the NIS Board to serve at their whims and fancies and forgetting that they are the representatives of the rank and file worker across the entire Grenadian landscape.
Both Patterson and James are guilty of collusion with the government representatives on the NIS Board with respect to the EC$10 million issue and should be fired.
Ironically, the same Patterson in his report at the 15th Biennial convention of the TUC held March 27 at the Public Workers Union (PWU) building at Tanteen was at pains to point out that some trade unionists are in bed with the Mitchell-led regime.
In his own words, he said the following: “It is noted that the Social Partnership is literally dead and now the GOG (Government of Grenada) does not need any input directly from Labour or Private Sector official representatives and have instead chosen the route of huddling closely with some influential business persons and past and present labour leaders”.
There is no secret that the past labour leaders who are currently giving support to the government are Ambassador Claris Charles and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Michael Pierre who are former members of GUT and the latest inductee is the once powerful President General of TAWU, Chester Humphrey.
The workers should call on Patterson to release the names of the current trade unionists who are pushing a pro-government agenda at the expense of the Working Class.
Within the trade union movement, there have been whispers for years that certain elements within the Seamen & Waterfront Workers Union (SWWU) and the Grenada Maritime, Mental & Intellectual Workers Union have been fitting that bill. Who are the others?
THE NEW TODAY is not surprised that this anti-worker NNP regime is allowed to get away with putting its feet on the necks of the Working Class because of a host of so-called leaders now running our trade unions on the island.
The TUC has closed shop while the government continues to mismanage the finances of the Treasury.
It is not surprising that the public sector unions –TAWU, GUT and the Public Workers Union (PWU) are not making any serious headway in the 4% salary increase issue with the government which is claiming that the Treasury does not have the money to make the promised payment.
The Mitchell government often points a finger at the former Congress government of being poor managers of the country and had to resort to selling state assets to pay the salaries of public officers during the 2008-13 period in office.
The same set of union leaders have been sitting quietly on the fence while the Mitchell-led government cannot account for EC$54.2 million dollars from the sale of Grenadian passports – a prized national asset – in the failed Shrimp farm project in Victoria, St. Mark.
The very leaders of these TUC-affiliated unions sat on their behinds as our passport worth millions in assets are being sold for millions by foreigners who have been allowed to rake in huge sums of money and keeping a great part of it for themselves.
Under this NNP administration, a foreign investor will come with a US$25 million project to be financed through the sale of passports in the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme but is allowed to sell more than the actual cost of the project.
The extra millions do not end up in the Treasury but in the private bank accounts overseas of these so-called foreign investors.
Our trade union leaders have locked their mouths for years while the current office holders allow some of these investors who are nothing but thieves and common criminals to rape and abuse the patrimony of this country.
THE NEW TODAY is convinced that the interest of the Working Class is not being served as it ought to be on some of the state boards by the representatives selected to sit on the Board of Directors by the TUC.
In the current situation, it is quite obvious that Patterson and James have outlived their usefulness to workers on the NIS Board and should be removed for lack of performance and better replacements should be sought as soon as possible.
The two came virtually like a thief in the night to give some information on the hijacking of the workers EC$10 million from NIS by the NNP government in a very obscure report presented at the TUC 15th Biennial Conference that never reached the average worker in the country.
Shame on Paterson and James who did not even have “the balls” to put together a resolution at the convention to condemn the open and bold hijack of the workers’ money by Prime Minister Mitchell and his government.
The workers should never forget that this money was taken from NIS when it is literally facing bankruptcy and to make matters worse by PM Mitchell who for years kept beating his chest and boasting that he has never taken a cent from NIS but was making contributions owed to the scheme by previous governments.