Female Attorney-at-law Claudette Joseph has called on trade union leader, Chester Humphrey to do the decent and honourable thing and resign as President of the Senate.
Joseph made the charge in light of the two hats being wore by Sen. Humphrey in the saga involving workers at the state-run Grenada Postal corporation (GPC) who are facing retrenchment under the current Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government.
She said there will come a time when the trade unionist who heads the powerful Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) will have to take a side either on behalf of the workers or his role as President of the Senate.
The attorney-at-law questioned why Humphrey is not understanding that he “can’t be President of the Senate and an active trade union leader at the same time” because it is a clear case of conflict of interest.
THE NEW TODAY publishes in its entirety the position of Attorney-at-law Claudette Joseph on the Chester Humphrey dilemma:
The Parliament is the highest institution in our land and next to the Constitution, the most significant symbol of our democracy. The Parliament consists of two Chambers: the House of Representatives (lower house) and the Senate (upper house). You are the President of the Senate. That means by well established Convention, you are the number three man in Grenada behind the Governor General and the Prime Minister. In fact, until your appointment, the Convention was that in the absence of the Governor General, the President of the Senate would act as Head of State.
The Postal Corporation is a statutory body, i.e., a creature of statute passed in the Parliament of Grenada, that statute being the Grenada Postal Corporation Act, Chapter 130G of the 2010 Revised Laws of Grenada. Any restructuring of the nature and construct of the Postal Corporation is almost certainly going to involve some kind of amendment to that Act. As President of the Senate, you will have to oversee that process.
You are required as President of the Senate to be utterly impartial and to faithfully execute the functions of your office without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. In other words, in the office of President of the Senate, you must NEVER find yourself in a position of conflict of interest.
Conflict of interest involves among other things, a situation where a person has a duty to more than one persons or organisations whose interests are in reality or perceived to be adverse to each other. A person who has a conflict of interest is in fact or is perceived to be unable to impartially carry out his duty to the two conflicting interests.
Viewing the GBN Television News last evening, I became irate when I saw the story dealing with the Government proposed changes to the Grenada Postal Corporation. There was our esteemed President of the Senate, wearing his trade unionist hat, lambasting the Board of Directors of the Postal Corporation, calling for their removal or resignation because he is unhappy with the apparent decision to retrench some 130 workers at the Corporation. Of course, these workers are unionised with his union, TAWU.
Now, first of all, why is it so hard for you to understand that you can’t be President of the Senate and an active trade union leader at the same time? That puts you in conflict, actual or perceived. Senator Humphrey Sir, you have to choose. It is as simple as that!
If the Government proceeds to amend the Postal Corporation Act to make provision for the proposed changes to that body, what would be your stance in the Parliament if the proposed amendments do not make provision for the workers in a manner that you think they should or at all? Whose interest would take precedence then, the people of Grenada or your union members?
Looking at the news report, I couldn’t help but notice that the reporter doing the piece didn’t even make the connection between the ranting trade unionist and the high and esteemed office that the same gentleman occupies. I remember when Mrs. Margaret Neckles was made President of the Senate in 1990, she was then a mere employee at Grenada Cablevision (now FLOW). She didn’t immediately resign her position there.
The late Leslie Pierre immediately jumped on that. He published an article in his Newspaper calling on her to immediately give up either her job or the Senate appointment. He argued, quite properly, that even a job as disconnected as hers appeared, could land her in a position of conflict. Mrs. Neckles had to resign from CableVision. Where are our journalists now? It seems like we have absolutely no replacements for the late Alister Hughes and Leslie Pierre. What an absolute shame!
I watched the news and I wondered, what is wrong with us? Isn’t there something instinctively wrong with this picture or is something wrong with me? Isn’t this demeaning our Parliament and the office of President of the Senate?
Please people, give me your feedback. Tell me if I am wrong. Otherwise, I beg you, start waking up and speaking up. This is about country. Our country. Not party politics or politicians. For the sake of the country, please let us stop allowing these things to slide. Let us stop settling for impropriety and mediocrity. One day we will wake up and it will be too late!