The Public Workers’ Union notes with great disappointment and dissatisfaction the statements of the Minister of Health made at Tuesday, May 31st, 2016 post Cabinet Press Conference, at the Ministerial Complex and views them as very disrespectful.
It seems to appear to seek to discredit the authority of the Ag. President as endowed upon her by the constitution and membership of the union. The PWU views this statement in regard to its elected President as appearing to be positive on the one hand and also seemingly to seek to present other mischievous ulterior motives.
These statements appear to undermine and discredit the constitutional authority of the Public Workers’ Union that empowers its Executive and very capable and able 1st Vice President.
The acting President is given the same authority and power to perform the same functions as the President. (Article 11 B – PWU Constitution). As a matter of fact, the 1st Vice President now acting President has always been present and visible at all negotiations of the Union seeking to reach amicable resolutions and agreements.
As all informed and knowledgeable persons may be aware, if Labour takes any Industrial action it is expected to have implications. However, the Union’s membership is very responsible.
The PWU is not aware of any walkout by the leadership of the PWU, and to say the least, a small segment of the leadership of the Union. It is a figment of the Minister’s imagination to conceive this idea. It appears that the Minister is implying that there is disharmony among the leadership of the Union and that actions taken by the PWU were not supported by the Executive and members of the Union.
Mr. Minister, we beg of you, we implore you, to please make statements that are accurate and informed and stop seeking to discredit the leadership and executive of the Union.
As all knowledgeable and sensible persons on Trade Union matters may be aware the question is asked Mr. Minister which Union within the state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique will come to the employer and inform them, that it is taking protest action?
Mr. Minister, please become aware and knowledgeable that the very nature of a protest action is the element of surprise and it is the employer to call the Union to the table when this is recognised.
The Union believes that the Government of Grenada appears to have no regard for Social Democracy and disregards the best interest and wishes of its employees and stakeholders in matters of policy decisions.
The Union was taken by great surprise to hear the Minister of Health make pronouncements that the Government would be employing Nurses through a private provider, an agency (GRENCASE) three days a week. Ludicrous!!!
The Union immediately called a press conference to state its dissatisfaction to this decision by the Government that it believed was not in the best interest of the Nursing Profession, the PWU and the citizens of this country.
The union viewed this action as unconstitutional and exposing Nurses to a further and more adverse form of indecent and precarious work. The Union is of the opinion that this precarious employment would not support the social and economic development of Nurses and would provide great insecurity of tenure that could induce fear and exposure to political and other victimisation of Nurses.
It does not uphold the professionalism of Nursing and seems to be taking citizens back to what we believe and view as slave labour; that does not provide any rights and freedom to the worker. It also creates no obligation by the employer to provide employees a Pension.
Further, when this is fully examined it is the start of undermining the Public Service and leading to a gradual removal of established officers once and for all, thus making the Public Service Commission null and void once there are no established workers.
The PWU does not view this as a positive move that is in the best interest of its membership. It is the creation of a fourth parallel Public Service. This is a means of undermining the Union and as a form of Union Busting.
The PWU as a responsible Trade Union has a responsibility to speak on behalf of the employed, unemployed and for those who cannot speak for themselves. Our forefathers did us this honour and we must safeguard the interest of Public Officers now and in the future.
Citizens please think of the future implications of this practice, think. As the PWU informs the Public Service has various structures through its various Ministries and Departments that affords the constitutional employment of Public Officers including Nurses. We implore the Government of Grenada to use these methods.
We are a sovereign state and as far as the PWU is aware the Government of Grenada gave the IMF a Home Grown Programme. The IMF never told the Government to provide indecent work to citizens. As a matter of fact the ILO spoke against this form of employment informing of the stress and multiple health challenges it creates for employees.
The PWU must clearly state that it is not and never will be against employment for anyone and it will not uphold indecent and precarious work for citizens that offer them zero social protection and development. It appears that the Government is playing on the vulnerability of its citizens at a time of need to justify its action.
The PWU must inform that members of the Executive were called to a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary and members of the Department of Public Administration to discuss the issue. The Union was still in the process of seeking to be further engaged by the DPA and to clarify and respond appropriately to proposals put forward at that meeting, when shockingly the Minister of Health made statements in Parliament that Nurses through a private agency would begin to provide service from May 15th, 2015.
The PWU responded to the Minister’s statements in National Media and recognised that Nurses had indeed
begun working via an Agency at Health Institutions. PWU took the decision to respond appropriately and took action of red arm band and intensified such action through protest to seek to get our employer to listen on this issue.
Mr. Minister, please explain to the PWU how the issue of Fringe Benefit Proposals relates to the issues at hand as we are confused of the relationship. However, we must state that as a Union we do not put forward proposals without consulting with our membership unlike others with no regard for Social Democracy.
Further, the Union was given until June 3rd, 2016 to submit its proposals and this it did before the stated deadline. Mr. Minister, please do not misuse an advice to rush unions to hastily submit proposals made at a consultation with the TUC membership.
The PWU will always seek to serve the best interest of its membership and is appalled that the Government will make such a statement to seek to give it members the impression that the Union is not serving their interest. This the PWU views as another attempt to discredit the Union.
The issue of Pension has been and continues to be a burning issue for all Public Officers and is one that Public Officers are not prepared to relinquish.
We have only heard promises on the payment of our increments and no written commitment has been provided to the Union. When will the payment of increments be confirmed, as the President of the TUC indicated in his May Day address a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. We are tired of promises.
We have written, protested and made numerous statements about our health and safety issues and are yet to see real change and continue to receive empty promises. Mr. Minister, it is time we see change in the form of action not words.
The PWU has always been and continues to be a responsible Union, during its eighty-five (85) years of existence; whether it is under the collective leadership of its elected or acting President.
The PWU would not allow Government to induce any fear or intimidation of its executive or members in any manner.
The PWU and all its members stand united and will move forward collectively to safeguard the interest of its members and the PWU as far as possible.
Mr. Minister, please do not mix-up the issues as a red, green or yellow issue it remains and always will be issues of Labour. The PWU is committed to promoting a healthy and mutually beneficial Industrial Relations climate.