A war of attrition is now taking place between two of the most colourful figures within the Grenada Trade Union Council (GTUC) who were once allies.
Former labour representative in the Senate, Chester Humphrey is no longer seeing eye-to-eye with his successor, Rae Roberts who once held the post of General Secretary of TUC.
Roberts is accusing Humphrey, the President-General of the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) of being the main instigator of an article which appeared in the September 3 issue of the CARIBUPDATE newspaper on the front page and headlined, “Ray Defies Unions”.
The article intimated that Sen. Roberts did not carry out the wishes of the Trade Union Council on the vote for casino and rather than voted in favour of the government-sponsored bill choose to abstain on the vote.
According to the newspaper article, the TUC had scheduled a meeting for late Thursday to discuss the vote of its representative in the Senate debate on the Casino/Gaming Bill.
Roberts has lashed out at Humphrey as the one who was mischievous in leaking a twisted version of the TUC position on the issue to the newspaper.
The TAWU boss is known to be close to Hamlet Mark, the man behind the newspaper and who now serves as a Senior Media Adviser to Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Humphrey along with Mark and former Congress government minister, Peter David who has defected to the ruling New National Party (NNP) are giving tacit support to the 19-month old government under scheme known as “Project Grenada”.
Roberts held a press conference on Tuesday to respond to the Humphrey/Caribupdate onslaught against him and issued the following opening remarks:
“As you are aware, I called for a Divisional Vote on the Bill and abstained.
The article claimed that I was instructed to vote in support of the Bill.
As labor representative in the Senate, most definitely on issues, that are impacting on workers, a meeting is generally called to have unions and the key word here is “UNIONS” input on the Bills to be debated.
In the case of the Casino/Gaming Bill that was done and we did have a meeting. The CIWU representative George Mason said his union has not discussed the issue and in the case of TAWU, its distinguished General Secretary Bert Patterson made it clear that TAWU’s General Council was not supporting Casino, but was not objecting.
Colleagues – do you get a sense that I am being instructed? I think the answer is definitely “NO”
The 2nd Vice President Kenny James said he could not speak for Teachers/GUT!
The Assistant General Secretary of SWWU (Seamen & Waterfront Workers Union), Fimbar Linton via a phone call to the office said he supported CASINO.
The PWU, Bank and General, GMMIWU were not represented at the meeting.
No doubt about it, individual members supported the Casino Bill.
Brother Chester Humphrey, President of TAWU, said he is a communist and does not believe in this capitalist, Casino, but if it will bring jobs he will support it.
Other individuals had similar opinions – if it will bring jobs – we must not object.
As individuals we had personal views – but keep in mind the trade union is made up of people of all persuasions – Catholics, Pentecostals, Muslims, Baptists, etc, etc!
We represent as many as 10.000 workers and one or two people who feel they are the opinion leaders in Grenada ought not to decide for all of us.
Eight people attended the meeting – three from one union, two from another and one each from another two. I sent the Bill on Casino/Gaming to all affiliates.
CARIBUPDATE also claimed that TUC called a special meeting to deal with its representative in the Senate. I am the Assistant General Secretary and I am yet to receive that invitation.
The most recent TUC Management meeting, under General Business, Brother Chester questioned why I did not vote in favour of the Bill and of course my defense was – WHO GAVE ME THE MANDATE?
And at the same meeting, there were colleagues who agreed with the position I took.
Colleagues, I am fully aware of trade union politics – I have been in it for the last two decades. It came as no surprise when Government Senators during the break were making fun – saying to me – we know you are instructed to support the Bill.
To conclude – the owners of CARIBUPDATE have deliberated plotted that story to discredit me. If they wanted to be truthful and fair they could have called me! Call the President of the TUC, call the other unions and ask them for their individual positions.
The Editors Hamlet Mark, and (Lincoln) “Toro” Depradine) they know me. They know where to find me!
Let me say that one of the leading figures in this newspaper is among the highest paid state journalist, meaning government is paying him in excess of $10,000 per month!
CARIBUPDATE is produced in the home of one of the men who between 1979 and today has unleashed the greatest pain and misery on the society – you follow that group and you enter the gates of hell ONCE MORE!
I expect more attacks – but I am ready for the biggest challenge and that is yet to come.