Last Tuesday’s election to fill a number of positions within the Public Workers Union (PWU) has given some pointers to the state of the politics on the island.
The turn-out was rather disappointing given the fact that Grenada has close to 6, 000 civil servants on the government payroll.
Only 1056 persons cast ballots for the Presidency position in which the incumbent, Adrian Francis beat back the challenge of Dr. Malachy Dottin of Team Unity that was suspected to be backed heavily by those involved in the so-called “Project Grenada” especially Senator Chester Humphrey.
This low turn-out at the poll should be cause for concern among the hierarchy of the PWU.
However, THE NEW TODAY got the feeling that there was some kind of fear among public officers that a Dottin Presidency would have resulted in the union being influenced by the controversial Sen. Humphrey who is now giving open support to the ruling New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell with his 360 degree turn-around from what he did in the past.
There was much apprehension among some civil servants over Francis’ leadership since he was often described as “missing in action” with 1st Vice-President Rachael Roberts being regarded as the face of the union.
Another cause of concern which arose in the midst of the election campaign was a report that Francis was offered a promotion to become an Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health.
It is felt in many quarters that a PWU President cannot accept a PS posting as he/she would be compromising the union if an industrial impasse has to be settled with his own line ministry.
Despite the fear, many civil servants took the view that it was better to stay the course with the “devil” they knew than risk putting in charge of their union business someone who they were very suspicious about in the person of Dottin.
There are more than credible reports circulating that the Team Unity leader has political ambitions and is seeking to use the union as a spring board into national politics when he eventually retires from the public service.
Dottin is from the St. George North-west constituency of Prime Minister Mitchell and is believed to be interested in becoming its Parliamentary Representative at some stage.
About two elections ago, the Team Unity leader was courting the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Constituency branch in St. George North-west as a potential candidate.
The behaviour of this senior civil servant begs the following question – Is Dottin a supporter of NNP or NDC or really more interested in staking a personal claim for political glory for himself?
The presence of Dr. Winston Thomas on his team left many persons in no doubt that the architects of “Project Grenada” were up to something with PWU and the leftover of the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution cannot ever be trusted when it comes to good intentions.
The factor that tilted the balance in favour of Francis and those executive officers who triumphed in the election was a fear of Team Unity and a determination by many civil servants to keep them at bay and avoid PWU falling under the direct control of Sen. Humphrey and his new association with NNP.
It is ironic that most of the resistance to Team Unity came from the Botanical Gardens where PM Mitchell has his office.
Civil servants have been severely affected by the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) undertaken by the new rulers who campaigned on a platform of plenty promises including “better days are coming” and the country will see an invasion by a host of foreign investors and that jobs a plenty would be available.
The investors have not come ashore and the jobs are scarce except for the 2-3, 000 provided by the State in the form of a so-called newlook Imani programme.
The Mitchell regime is approaching the mid-term of its 5 year tenure in office and would be mindful of the need to roll back the growing level of discontent in some quarters to the NNP failure so far to deliver on the many promises.
Dr. Mitchell is fully aware that a swing of 300-400 votes in many of the constituencies can tilt the balance away from several of his MP’s who are presently not visible in what should be their sphere of influence.
That’s why Tuesday’s election was important to the anti-NNP camp as the defeat suffered by Team Unity was seen as a blow to the proponents of “Project Grenada” and by extension the ruling administration.
THE NEW TODAY would also like to comment briefly on the distasteful manner in which the General Hospital reacted to the son of an ordinary farmer and businessman who was chopped and injured when masked men attacked the family home at Hope Vale last week Thursday night.
It is unconscionable to think that a man was brought by the police bleeding from a chop wound inflicted by gangsters and the hospital would demand payment of $30. 00 up front before an X-ray can be done on the injured hand.
Mr. Minister of Health, a clearly defined protocol should be put in place to guide nurses and staffers at our hospitals on the treatment of such cases because it can only serve to tarnish the image of our health institutions and the health care providers because this behaviour is not Grenadian-like.