The phrase “From the horse’s mouth” has now become a tangible item from the Public Worker’s Union (PWU) with the launching and publishing of its first newsletter.
The newsletter, which is the brain child of the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the PWU, Brian Grimes, was launched on January 8 at the Public Workers Union Building on Port Highway, St. George by the executive of the union, two months after the first publication in November.
In speaking to THE NEW TODAY newspaper in an exclusive interview on Monday, Grimes said the intention of the newsletter is to reach out to the membership of the union.
“We have seen over the past few months how devastating the propaganda machinery can be from our employer in relation to certain issues. We see that the misinformation machinery is well oiled, the government…they may be deliberately sending out misinformation so that their agenda can be realised – whichever it is, we have seen as an organisation that we need to connect with the members more and ensure that our message goes out there. So, this was the catalyst for the inception of our newsletter and called the PWU outreach”, he told the newspaper.
According to Grimes, the expertise of persons within the public service will be utilised to assist in the publication which will come out quarterly.
“The newsletter based on what we have now, our plans are to make it quarterly. So, basically we did it in the month of November, so based on that, even though it’s launched on January 8th, the next issue should be out sometime in February; so it’s basically going to be a quarterly newsletter”, he said.
“…I am very excited about it, the organisation, the executive members are excited about it because it will be a new way to connect. So, we will find various ways to distribute, whether it’s physical copies in the different ministries and departments as well as electronically via email and so forth…”, he added.
Grimes went on to say: “It’s an exciting venture, it’s the first newsletter, something historic and it’s definitely a way for us to connect with the members and ensure that they know all the facts. So, going forward, we will utilise the expertise of people currently in the system, people who have expertise on different areas whether it be lawyers or doctors or whatever, to write on issues relating to pension, healthcare or whatever is the current topical issue of the day. So it’s something pretty good and it’s something that we are again excited about”.
Grimes could not say what changes it will make in the communication process between the union and its members but he said it is fulfilling the requests of public officers.
“It is something experimental but even though there is a 1% improvement in terms of connection and communication, it will be realised. It will not cause a regression in the communication, because like I said at the launch also, the members have been crying out for that connection between themselves and the union. They believe sometimes information is delayed and what I have realised as the Public Relations Officer is that a lot of people are not aware of their rights, including constitutional rights, including rights that they have based on the Public Service rules and regulation and things of that nature.
“So, the newsletter would be (a) very important tool or a very important vehicle for disseminating that kind of information which would in turn empower the workers. So, as to what degree of improvement that communication will realise, we don’t know but we do know that there will be improvement.
The PWU along with two other public sector unions and organisations representing police and prison officers are currently locked in a bitter battle with the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government on gratuity and pension payments.
The public sector workers are angry with the decision taken by government to dock the days they were off the job to protest the meagre 2% offer that has since been increased to 8% from their employers.
The negotiations are now deadlocked with government taking the decision to officially refer the matter to the Labour Commissioner, a government employee for possible settlement.