The Grenada Trade Union Council (GTUC) is taking a strong line on future government borrowing of funds from the state-run National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
A source close to the TUC told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that instructions have been given to the representative of labour on the NIS Board of Directors to vote along specific lines.
He said the Executive body of the trade union movement met last week and took the decision that government should only access funds from the scheme in exchange for State assets.
The TUC decision comes against the backdrop of last week’s move by the NIS to help out the cash-strapped Keith Mitchell-led government by purchasing EC$20 million dollars worth in Treasury Bills to enable government to get monies to honour back pay owed to civil servants and to help meet the monthly payroll for November and December.
The TUC representative on the NIS board, Bert Patterson of the Grenada Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) voted along with fellow board members to accept the Treasury Bills.
A few months earlier, Patterson was said to be insisting that the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Tillman Thomas should only get funds from NIS on condition that it provided a number of State assets as a pre-condition.
The Patterson vote on the EC$20 million Treasury Bill issue is believed to have angered some of the other executive members of TUC and promoted the holding of the meeting to arrive at a common position on future borrowings.
According to a TUC insider, Paterson appeared to be annoyed and angry that someone from the trade union body would have informed this newspaper on the manner in which he voted on the money request from the Mitchell government.
Speculation is rife that Patterson took a strong line against the Congress administration on its request for funds from NIS because of a running battle between the President-General of TAWU, Chester Humphrey and some of the leading figures within NDC.
Humphrey along with eight others including former government ministers, Peter David, Glynis Roberts, Michael Church, Karl Hood and Pastor Stanford Simon were expelled from Congress following a protracted battle for control of the party that formed the government from July 2008 to February 2013.
Most of the expelled members threw their support behind Mitchell’s NNP for the February poll in which Congress lost all 15 seats.
The TUC is also said to be concerned over reports circulating in the country that the Mitchell government has been deducting contributions from the salaries of civil servants and not handing over the funds to NIS.
“Our people in the Ministry of Finance have been telling us that since this government (NNP) came into office nine months ago, they have been making the deductions each month and not once have they made a payment of these funds to NIS”, he said.
“This is not something that the NDC can make any noise about because there was a time when for one year they too were taking out the monies from the salaries of workers and not handing them over to NIS so they were just as guilty as NNP where this is concerned”, he added.
The NIS was created by the former left-leaning People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop in 1983.