First Vice-President of the Public Workers Union (PWU), Rachael Roberts has been elevated to the top position of the body following elections held last week Thursday among public officers.
Roberts replaced outgoing President Adrian Francis who did not seek re-election to office for the term that runs for two years.
She scored an easy victory against her opponent Dr. Malachy Dottin who was perceived to be the candidate of choice for the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Roberts ended up with 624 votes to Dottin’s 152 in a one-sided encounter.
Well-placed sources told THE NEW TODAY that Dottin’s campaign platform was badly affected by the person who was going around to help in his campaign.
A source who preferred not to be named said that the official was openly telling civil servants that Prime Minister Mitchell regarded Dottin as the better person to lead the union.
He spoke of the Dottin camp offering civil servants a package that included the building of a supermarket on the grounds of the Ministerial Complex for civil servants plus a Day Care center for working mothers.
Public officers are currently engaged in a “go-slow” action in the face of a stalemate in salary negotiations with Mitchell’s NNP administration.
Another candidate perceived to be pro-NNP, Dr. Winston Thomas (191) was also heavily defeated by his opponent Andrew Augustine who secured 571votes for the post of 1st PWU Vice-President.
Others elected to serve on the PWU executive are Secretary, Donald Noel, 2nd Vice President, Finbar Thomas, Treasurer, Justin Hazzard, Public Relations Officer, Brian Grimes and Assistant Secretary, Margaret Goddard.
Speaking to the New Today Newspaper via telephone on Monday, the new President said she is humbled by the results of the election.
“Public Officers are very valuable, they are very important to the economic development of Grenada and without them we cannot really move forward effectively as a country – they play a vital role”, she said.
“We have a very diverse (number) of members. Our members serve in many walks of life throughout Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique and I want to say to them, continue their excellent service that they (have) been giving. We have to grow from strength to strength to improve in productivity,” she remarked.
According to Roberts, there are many challenges ahead for the union and she was looking forward to working with her members to tackle them.
“I look forward to serving the members and to being a leader that would be listening and to honour them in every decision that I make.
We have a number of challenges, our pension is critical to us…this would (be) one of the important issues on the table for us.
“In addition, we want to ensure that the economic well being and sustainability of our membership, so stability of tenure for our members is critical and important also and in ensuring that we have health and safety in our workplace; that the environment in which we work is conducive to productivity.
Roberts added that there will be individual issues for the union to deal with for specific union members and urged all civil servants to join “hands and minds” together to help grow and develop the Union in a strategic manner.
PWU along with the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (GTAWU) have been engaged in a struggle with government over the past three months for salary increases for public officers.
The workers heightened their industrial action last week Monday by instigating “Go Slow” action at government ministries and departments.
President Roberts said the action will continue for the time being.
“We are still on go slow, we will be meeting today (March 13th ) as an executive and the negotiating team TAWU and PWU to discuss and to move forward to see where we go from here. We are still on go slow, the government has not yet responded to us,” she said.
THE NEW TODAY understands that some sections of the island’s lone water utility, NAWASA might take solidarity action soon on behalf of the public workers.