A delegation of the New National Party (NNP) recently met with the Management Committee of the Technical and Allied Workers’ Union (TAWU) at the Union’s Headquarters at Green Street.
The NNP’s delegation which was led by its Party Chairman, Senator the Honourable Gregory Bowen included Honourable Anthony Boatswain and Mr. Nicholas Steele, Caretaker for Town of St. George Constituency.
The Union’s delegation, led by its President General, Senator Chester A. Humphrey, Deputy President of the Senate included 2nd Vice President Gordon Raeburn and Assistant General Secretary Cde. Trevor Xavier.
The meeting was initiated by the NNP, as part of its interface with various stakeholder organisations on the implications of closure of Parliament, but it also visited a range of other national development issues.
The parties noted that the prorogation provision of the Constitution was designed to divide Parliament into different Sessions and to be used in the event of national emergencies. They specifically underscored that representative government forbids its use as a mechanism to stifle parliamentary debate – and prohibit parliament from performing its vital “watch-dog” role.
Both parties agreed that the closure of our parliament at this time was an absolute rejection of the ‘Democratic Governance Agenda – Transparency, Accountability; and amounts to a fundamental assault on the underpinnings of our democracy.
Commented the President General – a veteran with 22 years in the Senate and its current deputy President, “to literally ban Parliamentarians from meeting to discuss the nation’s business – particularly in the face of a grave fiscal collapse of Government is a step into executive autocracy and an annihilation of the essence of Parliamentary democracy.”
On the country’s development, TAWU provided a list of matters it wanted an incoming NNP administration to consider among which were:
(1) An immediate amendment to the INCOME TAX Act to remove the sunset on taxing Severance Pay arising from RETRENCHMENT;
(2) Amend Section 66.1 of the LABOUR RELATIONS ACT from “reasonable time” to “within 10 days.” This amendment to be done at the very first session of the first working sitting of Parliament;
(3) Implementation of a National School Bus Service partially funded with a universal fare;
(4) Implementation of National Health Insurance to address the challenges of Public Health care financing;
(5) Setting up of a Sovereign Re-capitalisation Fund for the Hotel Sector in order to save local properties from bankruptcies and going the way of La Source – this would save and expand hundreds of jobs of hotel workers and put income into the hands of farmers;
(6) Within six (6) weeks of forming the Government restart the Feeder/Farm Roads CCC project;
(7) (I) Reorganise the Ministry of Labour – create a Division of
CONCILIATION & MEDIATION OF INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES to be headed by someone with an LLB and with five (5) certified mediators.
(II) Reorganisation of the Factory Inspectorate with the appointment of an Occupational Health & Safety Director with minimum qualification of a BSc. in that discipline;
(8) Return of Grenada to being a full member of the International Labour Organisation;
(9) Restoration of workers representation to the Unions at the Postal Corporation as well as all other statutory Boards. Protection of that representation at the Grenada Electricity Services;
(10) Reinstatement of the unfairly dismissed workers at the National Lotteries Authority and the passage of ANTI-SEXUAL HARASSMENT at the WORKPLACE LEGISLATION.
The above were some of the request made to the Parliamentary Opposition’s delegation.
The New National Party Delegation undertook to examine TAWU’s proposals in the wider context of the country’s overall economic and social development.
The parties also agreed to keep the communication lines open; the NNP delegation thanked TAWU for facilitating the cross-fertilisation opportunity.