A senior Grenada lawyer has taken issue with statements made by President of the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) Senator Andre Lewis challenging the government’s decision to appoint members to represent the private sector and trade union movement to serve on the Investment Committee of the state-run National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
The lawyer provided to THE NEW TODAY a portion of the NIS act which shows that the Minister responsible for Social Security Phillip Telesford is the one empowered by law to make the selection of the two persons and not the Grenada Trade Union Council (GTUC) and the Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GCIC).
He accused Sen. Lewis of seeking to “deliberately mislead” the nation on the issue as part of “mischief”.
“Andre needs (to be put right),” said the attorney-at-law in private practice.
According to the attorney-at-law, there is no obligation in law for the union to select the person to serve on the NIS Investment Committee as the law says in simple terms that employers and employees must be represented on the body.
He chided the trade union for remaining silent when the former New National Party (NNP) government of Dr. Keith Mitchell forced the state-controlled National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to give it “a haircut” as part of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in the 2013-18 period.
He recalled that the trade unions were also silent when the NNP government “raided” NIS and took out EC$20 million from it.
“…When Keith Mitchell was raiding the place (NIS) … they didn’t say anything. In fact Keith Mitchell took a haircut and they didn’t say anything,” he said.
“So the question is – if they are always appointing the union on the Investment Committee and the thing ends up nearly bursting, do the same thing again? You’re doing the same thing over and over”.
“The law says – two other members who appear to the Minister, the Minister being the Minister of Social Security to be experienced in Finance, Accountancy, Business Administration, Industrial Relations or some other related subject, one of whom should represent employers and the other shall represent employees. You hear anything there about union”.
“It speaks of the Minister in his own deliberate judgment – not even the Prime Minister (Dickon Mitchell) is empowered to make the appointment.”
According to the senior lawyer, he believes that Sen. Lewis is fully aware of the contents of the law but is trying to push the narrative that “the union has always been involved in the selection of the person to serve on the committee.”
“Yes, the union has always been part but they have been losing money” he said and the Congress government of Dickon Mitchell is right “to try something else” in keeping with the dictates of the law.
“The people voted for change…. (and) you want the government to come now and do the same thing,” he remarked.
THE NEW TODAY understands that Congress is mindful of the manner in which the former NDC government of Tillman Thomas was treated by a former NIS committee that was dominated by persons linked to the NNP.
Retired banker Roy O’Neale who is an associate of the NNP has been serving as the face of the private sector on the NIS Investment Committee for several years.