Veteran trade unionist, Chester Humphrey has failed in his bid to remove one of his colleagues who represents the Trade Union Council (TUC) from serving on the government-appointed Labour Advisory Board.
An informed source told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that Humphrey, the President-General of the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) had presented a resolution to the TUC Management to remove former President of the Commercial & Industrial Workers Union (CIWU), Elliot Bishop from the board.
He said that Humphrey cited Bishop’s age among other things as the reason for moving against him.
The President of TUC, Madonna Harford reportedly called Bishop to inform him of the motion and to inquire what was his position with respect to the move against him by Humphrey and TAWU.
According to the official, Humphrey was seeking to have Bishop replaced by the General Secretary of his own union, Bert Patterson.
He spoke of the TUC management deliberating on the motion against Bishop and took a decision not to put it to the vote.
He said that a number of executive members took the position that Humphrey’s motion was “offensive” and in “bad taste” given Bishop’s long-serving tenure with TUC in which he served at one time as its General Secretary.
He stressed that Bishop’s stint with the Labour Advisory Board is due to end around the middle of next year and Humphrey should have waited until such time to raise the issue instead of seeking to “humiliate” an individual who had given years of service to the organisation.
Another top TUC official pointed out that Humphrey should have brought such a motion against himself given the amount of meetings of the Labour Advisory Board that he missed over the years.
“This man (Humphrey) has missed so much meetings that the TUC should really consider asking him to step down and allow someone else to represent it on the board. It is too opportunistic of him to try to remove Bishop on the grounds of age”, he said
“You must call Chess and ask him his own age. He is about one year younger than Bishop. So if Chess is trying to remove the man from the Board then he (Humphrey) should also step down on account of his age. The age thing with Bishop is only a smokescreen for some other sinister plan”, he added.
The official described Humphrey as one who “is always planning something” and that he will not rest until he achieves his objective.
When contacted, Bishop said that he was informed about the “sinister plot” to remove him from the board but that he was puzzled over the timing of the motion that was presented by Humphrey.
He insisted that the move can only be politically motivated in light of the fact that the two of them are no longer on the same side.
Both Bishop and Humphrey were associated with the New Jewel Movement-led 1979-83 Grenada Revolution which climaxed with the brutal execution of leftist Prime Minister Maurice Bishop on October 19, 1983 and subsequent U.S military intervention to restore democratic rule.
After the 1999 humiliation of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) at the polls, the two became active supporters with Humphrey operating in the Town of St. George and Bishop in St. George North-east.
However, the TAWU boss was expelled from Congress in September 2012 amidst political turmoil in the party as a rebel faction led by former Foreign Affairs Minister, Peter David wrestled for control of the party and government from Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.
Humphrey is currently spearheading an initiative known as “Project Grenada” involving a number of leading leftist figures with Mitchell’s NNP administration.
Three weeks ago, PM Mitchell announced changes to his government line-up in the Senate and brought in Humphrey and David at the expense of Minister of State for Implementation, Kenny Lalsingh and President of the Senate, Lawrence Joseph.
Humphrey did not answer his cell phone when THE NEW TODAY attempted to contact him for comment on the anti-Bishop motion.
The female TUC boss was also contacted and she preferred not to comment on the action of Humphrey, considered as the President-elect of the Senate, on the grounds that the issue was an “internal one” among the TUC membership.
Harford also declined to comment on reports circulating among local trade unions that the TAWU President-General has penned a letter to the President of the Public Workers Union (PWU) calling for a re-organisation of the TUC.
A high-level source said that the Humphrey letter is seeking to get PWU to support a proposal for the two of them to have greater decision-making power in the umbrella trade union body in light of the fact that they are the major financial contributors to the up-keep of the organisation.
Speculation is rife that Humphrey is seeking to position TAWU to veto anything that it is not supportive of within the TUC.
According to one trade union leader, the veteran trade unionist might seek to use the power of the veto to remove Rae Roberts as the representative of labour in the Senate.
Roberts and Humphrey were close allies during the 1995-2008 rule of Mitchell’s NNP but after the TAWU boss was expelled as a member of NDC, he is said to have been on a war path with other trade unionists considered to be sympathetic to Congress.