Ougtoing President of the Senate, Chester Humphrey has said that it was a fruitful 9th session of Parliament and he believes that certain lifelong objectives were achieved for the Labour Movement in the country.
In addressing the final sitting of the Upper House before it was dissolved on January 29, Humphrey said that those objectives would have benefitted the poor and the working people in Grenada.
He singled out the removal of personal income tax on pensions as one of the most memorable achievement while serving as President of the Senate.
“I can tell you that this has been a long part of the programmatic platform of the Grenada Technical and Allied Workers Union (GTAWU) and the Grenada Trades Union Council (TUC) and I am happy that we were able to achieve this in the house over which I presided”, he told fellow legislators.
“Honourable members, you don’t know how profoundly proud I am of that accomplishment because I know the significance it places on the quality of life of retired workers who had given this country all of their productive years and can now look forward to a more sun-shined retirement with the removal of personal income tax on pensions”, he said.
According to the veteran trade unionist, he is also proud to be associated with the decision to remove personal income tax on NIS and on retrenchment pay.
Humphrey described this as “a significant achievement” in what he referred to as “a period of high unemployment” and “a period when the world economy went into its deepest recession”.
He said “the workers of Cable and Wireless, Flow, in the banking sector, be it First Caribbean Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, RBTT Bank – all of these workers, many who have lost good jobs because of the international crisis and the destruction of the economy were better able to survive because of the influence of the labour movement and the concurrence of the government by accepting the recommendation and removing income tax on retrenchment pay.”
The former President-General of TAWU gave the thumbs up to the Trade Union Council for securing increases in pay for public servants during the reign of the current government, something he said, regional countries are struggling with.
“That the Trade Union Movement in Grenada … were able to extract from the state a sum of over $110 million within a 48-month period in an immediate post-economic depressed period is a major achievement of any trade union within the Caribbean because I can tell you in economies that were far more advanced than ours, right here in this region there are public officers today whose only adjustment in pay happened almost 8 years ago.
“I believe the Trade Unions ought to thump their chests, feel aptly proud that they have been able to secure for state employees that sum of money and again that speaks to the influence that the Labour Movement have and that my successor Andre Lewis and others are following the footprints laid in the sand very closely and the workers must feel justly proud of their leadership because I am indeed proud myself.
Sen. Humphrey also beat his chest and mentioned the restoration of pension rights to former public servant, Hermilyn Armstrong as another milestone for labour as he himself while serving as head of TAWU fought for that.
He said, “I can tell you since 1986, I almost single handedly pursued through the Labour Movement this restoration and I am happy that I have been associated with the victory scored at the Constitutional court and even happier that the government has conceded and agreed to comply and make it a part of government strategic objective to restore those pensions”.
Within days of his pronouncements in the Senate, Humphrey was appearing on the political platform of the ruling New National Party (NNP) which is seeking another five-year term in office.
The ex-TAWU boss has spent the better part of 25 years in opposition to NNP but soon associated himself with it following his expulsion from Congress in 2012.