The New Today
Editorials

The illegal port strike!!!

The impasse that crippled activities on the St George’s Port boils down to the old saying that two wrongs could never make a right.

The Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) and the Port workers were clearly engaged in an illegal strike and that those in authority within the Grenada Ports Authority (GPA) should also be faulted for the manner in which they set about to dismiss the female employee, which resulted in the confrontation.

The biggest loser was the government which might still be counting the millions in lost revenue due to the one week industrial action.

The members of the Business Community suffered huge financial losses with millions in worth of goods stuck on the port for days with their preparation for the Christmas holiday period shopping, as well as truckmen and the Traffickers who felt the impact of the work stoppage that impacted on their trade with neighbouring Trinidad & Tobago.

Investigations carried out by THE NEW TODAY point in the direction of a badly written letter by GPA – whether by design, deliberate or ignorance by the Port Authority to sack the worker who has been under a cloud for several years.

It is quite mind-boggling that those with big qualifications alongside their names in management, as well as the Board of Directors would make such a massive bungling in which the dismissal letter was written and left loopholes for TAWU and its legal advisors to pounce upon.

Those running GPA should know that if they accuse a worker of stealing and wish to dismiss the employee then they have to possess the evidence and facts to build their case.

It appears that the Port Authority did not even seek the advice of its own lawyers on the issue of the firing of the worker.

This will be rather unfortunate as most law firms are paid a monthly retainer fee by statutory bodies to offer them solid and sound legal advice on issues that they are often faced with and have to take certain decisions.

The Port Authority falls under the Ministry of Finance in which the Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell is the line minister and has responsibility for its operations and running.

It should also be noted that since the June 23 change of government the now ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration has not made any changes in the Directorship of the statutory body in the five months in office as part of the much talked about Transformational Agenda of the new kids on the block.

The Prime Minister will now have to take things in hand rather quickly and re-arrange the Board of Directors as it has come across to John Public as being very incompetent and a body that does not know how to handle something as simple as a probe into an employee suspected of engaging in wrong-doing.

In the same vein, TAWU and its President-General Senator Andre Lewis should be censured for engaging in an illegal strike on the port.

It is unfortunate that the union boss would admit publicly that the workers called the strike action and that he joined it.

This seems to suggest that the tail was wagging the dog in this issue and that the goodly Senator had abdicated his responsibility as a trade union leader in the country.

THE NEW TODAY is not aware of any legal challenges mounted by TAWU on legislation passed in Parliament, where the Senator sits as a law-maker on industrial strike action in an Essential Service such as the operation of the Port.

Sen. Lewis violated the law of the land since he should have informed the striking workers that under the act governing the operations of Essential Services it was the responsibility of TAWU to get them back on the job and for the union to approach the Labour Commissioner in an effort to resolve their grievances.

One other issue that arises from the Port strike is the kind of educational processes that are undertaken by TAWU and other trade unions for their membership.

Workers have a right to withhold their labour as they see fit but ought to equally understand and know that there could be certain consequences.

The recent ruling by high court judge, Justice Glasgow against the female secondary school teacher who challenged the decision of the former Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) regime to dock their payment for taking strike action could be applied in the current case involving the Port.

This could leave a bitter taste in the mouths of the Port Workers and TAWU might have to dip into its coffers to compensate the workers for any loss of earnings from this illegal strike action.

Over the years, there have been deep suspicions about massive corruption and wrong-doing on the Port not only among GPA employees as persons seek to lay their hands illegally on some of the millions that pass through weekly in this major point of entry into this country which provides the bulk of the revenue for the State.

This is one place on the island that should be subjected to a major forensic probe as part of a badly needed Operation Clean-up of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.

The current rulers should seek outside assistance especially from the British to undertake this kind of investigation which can turn out to be a nightmare for many persons in the country.

However, THE NEW TODAY is not hopeful of anything along those lines taking place as too many persons with vested interest in high places will go all out to make sure that nothing of the sort is ever done in Grenada.

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