“I am going to do something on March 13th that I have never ever done before, I am going to vote the New National Party”.
Those were the words uttered by outgoing President of the Senate and expelled member of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Chester Humphrey as he stood on the platform of the New National Party (NNP) in a massive rally at Plains, St. Patrick on Sunday trying to convince voters why they should cast their ballots in the direction of the NNP.
In a very emotional speech, Humphrey blasted his former 1979-83 Grenada Revolution comrade, Nazim Burke, the current leader of NDC and former Minister of Finance.
“We know what we have, we don’t know what we go get. I am going to tell you what you’re going to get,” he said while outlining a number of reasons why voters should reject Burke and Congress in the March 13 national poll.
“Listen to me carefully, we have two choices facing us, we have two applicants for a job (Prime Minister), one applicant has been doing the work and has been delivering, the other applicant is applying for the job and I am going to give you his previous job history and you decide whether or not, you are going to employ him because Mr. Burke is not going to apply for Minister of Finance, he wants to be the Prime Minister,” he said.
According to Humphrey, he was locked up by the NDC government for fighting for the workers of the country and was now standing on the NNP platform in the continuing fight for the workers.
The former President General of the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) gave kudos to the current NNP regime for removing income tax on severance, something he said Burke refused to do while in government as Minister of Finance.
“The New National Party enacted the Labour Code, the Employment and Labour Relations act since 1999. Comrades, I begged, I fought, I prayed, I asked the National Democratic Congress to remove income tax on severance pay because workers were losing their jobs left, right and centre.
“You know that I fought and put the National Democratic Congress in office and I went to them in their first convention after they won the election in 2008, in the GBSS auditorium in March…I went there and presented them with a resolution to remove income tax on severance pay and the resolution passed.
“I got a big applause but do you know what happened, the man who is now applying for the job, he never gave it, Nazim Burke stalled, he refused to implement the income tax on severance pay. It’s only when he see water more than flour and the writing was on the wall and the people (were) going to run him out of town that he changed it and he did it only for one year. So hundreds of workers had to pay income tax on severance pay…
Humphrey went on: “Dr. Mitchell gave the Technical and Allied Workers Union a promise and within three months of taking office in 2013 at the May Day rally in La Sagesse, Dr. Mitchell revealed that the New National Party will remove income tax on severance pay with effect from January the first.
“Who you voting? The man who fought against it, now is applying for the job…the good thing about it is that you the people will decide whether he is getting that job or not. Would you give Naz that job?”
Humphrey spoke about a bill that he was involved in aimed at preventing a reoccurrence of what happened with the locked-out workers of the Grenada Brewery Limited in 2012 that was shot down by Burke in the Lower House of Parliament.
He said, “After that long struggle with the Brewery workers, 66 days, you remember when I had to go and lie down in front of a truck, a moving truck and I said ‘take my life I will defend the workers’, we moved in the Parliament of Grenada to change the act so that that would not happen to the workers again….
“The matter was brought by me in the Senate. It was passed, everybody voted for it, now the bill has to go down to the house, in the house with the NDC government. Nazim Burke was the Leader of Government Business and you know what happened, that bill never passed – Mr. Burke killed that bill. So, Mr. Burke, what he did to the 126 workers in the Brewery, could you vote for that man?”
Humphrey also urged persons employed by Security firms on the island to reject Burke and NDC on election day.
“I want the security workers to listen. You remember the struggle that we had to get the $8 an hour. (Former Labour Minister) Glynis Roberts, a decent woman, fought in the Cabinet and who you think she was fighting against? Nazim Burke that was fighting against Glynis to prevent the Security Guards from getting their $8 an hour and comrades this is why we can’t stand up, we have to move to the polls in our hundreds, in our thousands and cast our votes to continue the train of liberation.
For the better part of 34 years, Humphrey had been the most vocal critic of Prime Minister Mitchell before giving him support after he and nine others were expelled from Congress in 2012.