There are growing signs that President-General of the powerful Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU), Chester Humphrey is losing face with the working class in the country.
At last year’s Labour Day celebrations on May 1, Humphrey was booed, jeered at and heckled by workers as he delivered the traditional speech on behalf of his union.
The expelled member of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) accused his former political colleagues of spearheading the anti-Humphrey sentiments at the labour day parade.
The fortunes of the TAWU boss has been on the wane ever since he pledged co-operation with the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell under an initiative known as “Project Grenada”.
Workers in Grenada have been under severe financial and economic pressure since the return of Prime Minister Mitchell to power in general elections held on February 19, 2013.
The two year old regime has introduced a number of taxs measures as part of a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) signed off with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF).
THE NEW TODAY understands that workers were gearing up to throw toilet paper at Humphrey if he took to the podium to deliver a speech on behalf of his union.
With over 30 years of labour service, Humphrey is now the President of the Grenada Senate.
Although, Humphrey led the Union’s parade from the Grenville Bus Terminus to the Progress Park grounds, it was clearly evident that he has lost the support of a vast amount of the members as the TAWU contingent was noticeably smaller with fewer placards carried by workers venting their frustrations.
The crowd, assembled at the park also engaged in loud boos when Labour Minister Elvin Nimrod in his address mentioned Humphrey’s name in recognition of his contribution to the establishment of a national health insurance plan in the making for Grenada.
Many who attended this year’s event speculated that this could be the reason why Humphrey abstained from delivering the message, to the disappointment of workers who were heard chanting “we want chess” when Vice President Gordon Raeburn was called to the podium instead.
It was widely rumoured that the workers were waiting for another opportunity to publicly humiliate Humphrey again and were disappointed that they did not get the chance.
Those sitting in the stands were seen taking their leave as soon as Raeburn graced the podium to address them instead of the veteran trade union leader.
“The workers would never forgive Chester for joining forces with the NNP (New National Party)” another trade union member was heard saying to another in the bleachers following the TAWU members’ departure from the stands.
A female union executive who was on the Public Address system appealed for calm and for respect to be shown to Raeburn who backed out and had to be escorted backto the podium by TUC officials to deliver the address on behalf of TAWU.
The speaker on the PA system repeatedly urged workers to remember the significance of the event, which was celebrated under the theme “Maintaining the flame of our forefathers while restructuring in the face of economic challenges.”
Humphrey assumed the TAWU Presidency in 1990 and last year faced his first stern challenge for the top union post.
Speculation is rife that the TAWU boss might face another challenge in 2016 when elections are due for the Presidency.