Tribute to Karl Hudson-Phillip

by Dr Francis Alexis QC

 

The passing of Karl Hudson-Phillips QC of Trinidad and Tobago is a matter of deep shock and profound regret, not least because it was so sudden.

Karl Hudson-Phillips QC rendered yeoman service to Grenada in enabling Grenada to meet the requirements for Grenada to re-enter the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in 1991. His exceptional brilliance as an eminent legal luminary, his considerable experience in governance, and his notable skills in international relations made him most apt to afford Grenada the invaluable assistance he gave Grenada

Karl Hudson-Phillips QC made a monumental contribution to Grenada overcoming the challenges it faced in re-entering the Court.

I, as Attorney-General at the time, leaned heavily on the uniquely expert help of Karl Hudson-Phillips QC in advising the Government of then Prime Minister Sir Nicholas Brathwiate on seeing to it that Grenada rose to the occasion successfully.

Karl Hudson-Phillips QC was, therefore, a great friend of Grenada in ensuring that Grenada re-enter the Court in 1991.

On 10 December 2013, with Karl Hudson-Phillips QC and I leading opposing parties, I took the opportunity in court to pay the above tribute to whom, I told Madam Justice Margaret Mohammed was, “the legendary Karl Hudson-Phillips QC”.

I extend deep condolences to the family of Karl Hudson-Phillips QC, especially his dear wife Mrs. Hudson-Phillips and his daughter my law colleague Jennifer Hudson-Phillips. I very much sympathise with the law firm in Grenada of which Karl Hudson-Phillips QC was a partner, Henry Hudson-Phillips & Co.

I pray that God grant rest in peace eternal life to Karl Hudson-Phillips QC

Victory for TAWU on Independence Agencies issue

After three long years and five months, victory has finally come to the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) and the Workers it represents at Independence Agencies Ltd.

On January 14, female high court judge, Justice Margaret Price-Findlay ruled in favour of the Union and against the former Minister of Labour, Karl Hood and awarded the union $5,000.00 in cost.

The TAWU/Independence Agencies issue arose out of an incident on the morning of July 14, 2010 while the Ministry of Labour was about to conduct a poll at the business place for recognition of the workers.

It is alleged that the company’s attorney-at-law, Carol Bristol turned up at the conference room at Independence Agencies and demanded that workers at CK’s Super-Valu be allowed to vote in the poll even though those workers had never requested representation from TAWU to be their Bargaining Agent.

The union held the view that the employer was trying to ensure that TAWU did not get the requisite majority by including workers with whom the Union did not have a relationship.

TAWU took objection and insisted that the poll proceed with only the workers employed at Independence Agencies allowed to cast ballots.

The evidence also seemed to suggest that on the said morning of the poll, Labour Minister Hood called to speak to the company’s attorney and also one of the officials of the union who was on the premises.

The Union reportedly pointed out to Hood that there are many examples of a company having one or more Bargaining Units for workers.

The TAWU official is said to have suggested to the then Labour Minister that what he could do was conduct the poll, and if there was a problem, he could refuse to certify the Union and state reasons for not issuing his certificate.

However, the Minister stopped the poll and TAWU decided to take the matter before the High Court.

The union filed an application for judicial review and an Order of Mandamus compelling the Minister to conduct the poll as applied for by TAWU.

Justice Price Finlay in handing down the Judgment issued the following order.

 

(1). The Labour Commissioner and not the Minister is the proper authority to determine the Bargaining Unit upon an application for certification by a Trade Union.

 

(2). A Declaration that the Minister unilaterally and without lawful authority, arbitrarily cancelled a poll scheduled by the Labour Commissioner in relation to employees at Independence Agencies Limited.

 

(3). An injunction restraining the Minister from altering or in any way interfering with the bargaining unit determined by the Labour Commissioner as considered appropriate in the circumstances and acting pursuant to section 35 of the Labour Relations Act

 

(4). A Declaration that the Minister has no lawful authority pursuant to the Labour Relations Act or otherwise to dictate to the Applicant that it must apply to be certified as the Bargaining Agent for the workers at both CK’s and Independence Agencies

 

(5). An Order directing the Minister to institute a poll in relation to the employees at Independence Agencies Limited pursuant to his statutory duty under section 36 (b) of the Labour Relations Act.

 

Workers of Independence Agencies after three years of waiting, have been urged to get ready as polling day is expected very soon.

The workers are also being advised to not be fooled by what will be told to them by those who want to stop them from getting Trade Union representation, and that every effort will be made to prevent them getting better working conditions.

TAWU is seeking to assure the workers at the business place that on polling day, they will be able to demonstrate their democratic right to choose a strong union to represent them and a union, which brings the best benefits to them.

 

Tax budget – Independence and new NDC leader

Lloyd NoelThe month of February in this New Year will be outstanding for celebrating a number of very historic events in our political Calendar.

The most important date will be the Seventh of February 2014, which will be our Fortieth (40th) Anniversary as an Independent State from Seventh February, 1974, when we achieved our Political Independence from Great Britain and ceased to be a British The next two dates, viz the (2nd) second February when the (NDC) National Democratic Congress will be electing a new Party Leader, to replace Mr. Tillman Thomas who will not be contesting the party leadership at its National Convention.

And the Nineteenth February, when the ruling NNP Government will be celebrating one year since winning all Fifteen Parliamentary Seats in the General Elections last year for the second time since Independence, and on both occasion under the same Leader, Dr. the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell as Prime Minister.

The Fortieth Independence Anniversary is the most important of the three dates in my humble opinion.

And those who were in Grenada, like myself, on that memorable date and in the period leading up to the Seventh, am sure they would agree it was a very historic period, and I would add that it is unequaled in the English-speaking Caribbean.

The Political Leader who persuaded the British Government to grant our Independence, was the late Eric Mathew Gairy, who was the Leader of his Labour Party.

And the opposition against Independence under Eric Gairy, was led by the New Jewel Movement (NJM) headed by the late Maurice Bishop and widely supported by Grenadians in the Tri-Island colony in those days.

There were demonstrations in St. George’s for two or three weeks before the Seventh February, and Electricity was off due to striking workers so that on the night of the Sixth February leading up to midnight, on Fort Frederick where the Ceremony was taking place to make Grenada an Independent State in the Commonwealth, a Delco had to be used to provide lighting for the occasion, but the whole process was very brief.

And it was from that period that the struggle against Gairyism intensified by the NJM and although we contested the Elections in 1976 and lost to Gairy’s Party, the struggle continued right up to the Revolution in March, 1979, when the NJM seized political power by force of arms.

The rest is now history – with detention and mass killings and political prisoners in little Grenada, until the rescue mission by U.S. Forces sent in by President Reagan in 1983, to release prisoners from detention and protect U.S. students at the St. George’s Medical School in Grand Anse.

The Second February is the date of the NDC Convention, to choose a new leader to take over from ex.P.M. Tillman Thomas, who lost his seat at the elections on the 19th February last year when the NDC failed to win a single seat in the current Parliament.

The then Governor General appointed three of the NDC losers as Senators in the Upper House of Parliament and the story now is that two of them, Nazim Burke and Franka Bernadine, will be contesting the Leadership vacancy at the Convention.

Many onlookers are predicting that Mr. Burke will be the chosen Leader, to re-build the party to regain power from the NNP in the next four years. Some are also suggesting, that it will make a welcome change to have a female Leader and Prime Minister after all those forty years under the control of male leaders and not very much to show for that.

All are matters of opinion and we will see how the membership respond at the Convention on the Second February.

Whatever the decision of the party members next month, the new Leader will have his/her work cut out to re-build the party, after all the chaos and confusion that badly affected the party towards the end of its control of power in the last Parliament, when two or three of its M.Ps resigned from the Government.

The party was more or less at a standstill after those resignations so it was no surprise when the Leadership at the time, failed to persuade the voters to even elect one of its Fifteen Candidates to Parliament.

Whoever the new Leader maybe, he or she will have a heavy workload in trying to re-build the party so as to be able to influence the Voters to choose the NDC Candidates to replace the NNP lot in 2018.

And while it is fair to argue, that the new Leader will have ample time at his/her disposal in the next four years, it is also just as obvious, that the Controllers in charge have the same length of time to put their policies in place, and learn from their mistakes.

So as we come to that historic month of February this year to deal with those significant dates of the Second, the Seventh, and the Nineteenth, there should be no denying that Twenty-Fourteen will be a memorable year in our political history in the years ahead to 2018 and beyond.

The harsh effects of being less well-off

SAUNDERSThroughout the Caribbean, people feel less well off. The only people who may be exceptions to this general sentiment are those in Guyana whose per capita income (now US$3,410.00) has increased in recent years. But even in Guyana, the per capita income level is so low – higher only than Haiti (US$760.00) in the Caribbean Community – that any perception among the majority of doing better is marginal.

Unemployment has risen in several countries affecting families across the board. They either have less collective income or those fortunate enough to be employed have to contribute to the survival of those without jobs.

Disposable incomes for all have declined as higher costs for utilities and higher income and value added taxes devour increasingly larger portions of wages and salaries.

Again with the exception of a small number of countries, the decline in real family incomes has adversely affected the construction industry with a decelerating effect on economies. The construction of individual homes or housing schemes is a provider of jobs and has a multiplier effect on economies stimulating economic growth.

Because of tight constraints to make ends meet, families are less willing to take on mortgages that they might be unable to repay. In any event, Banks and other financial institutions are themselves reluctant to lend for anything but projects that have the most secure collateral. Many of them are already holding mortgages and loans that are in default of payment by their customers. They are finding difficulty to recover their money even if they repossess properties.

Businesses, faced with contracting domestic markets in several Caribbean countries, have also been wary of investing in expanding existing businesses or creating new ones. Hence, they too are making no contribution to industries such as construction, and they are treading lightly in incurring additional debt and in taking on more employees.

A serious consequence of all this is a shrinking middle-class in many Caribbean countries and an enlarging poor and near-poor. A grave consequence is the increase in violent crime by some who are most deprived – probably linked to drug trafficking and addiction.

In the past, Caribbean countries have been most concerned about the negative impact of such violent crime on foreign investors, but the problem has escalated to distress local communities. A big growth industry in the Caribbean is security services and it will grow even more in the adversity of the present economic circumstances.

Yet while Caribbean countries individually are in this grip of economic and social hardship to one extent or another, collectively the region is rich in real terms both in natural and human resources. If the resources of the Caribbean community were harnessed for the benefit of the region as a whole, a halt could be brought to the current decline and a process of steady improvement could begin.

There is, however, a reluctance to do so. Instead there is a resolute insistence by governments to deal with the problems in a national context only – a major component in most cases is beseeching and borrowing.

Well-mind advocates for “national solutions” even suggest that to look at regional options is “time wasting” and “distracting”. But, those who advance this argument have not explained how the majority of small Caribbean economies would overcome their physical smallness; the smallness of their domestic economies; the severe restraints on raising money on the international capital market to build much needed infrastructure; and their individual lack of capacity to bargain in the international community for better terms of trade, credit, and investment.

Even Guyana, Belize, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago with their bigger size and greater natural resources cannot by themselves overcome these obstacles.

To overcome them, resources need to be combined for a common good; production needs to be integrated to make best use of resources – human and natural; sovereignty needs to be pooled both to bargain more effectively and to become attractive to investors and to international lenders.

It seems that many governments of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are not ready to collaborate to make themselves more competitive in production; more attractive for investment; and more worthy for credit. Therefore, perhaps the time has come for a smaller coalition of willing countries to embark on such a course separate and apart from the rest of CARICOM countries. In doing so, none of them would be required to give up their nationhood or national control of their borders; their culture; their legislatures; their taxes or their local environment.

Not all decisional areas raise issues of the same political prominence in every country. It is possible to separate out some on which action might move ahead by countries that are willing to participate. In other words, a coalition of the willing could establish a more customized approach, based on interests and capacities.

Such an initiative, while bringing benefits to the participating states would help to re-build confidence among the Caribbean people through the demonstration that regional integration makes good sense.

Among the collaborative enterprises that the “willing” could consider are specific areas of investment in one or more country to which the participating states could stand as joint borrower, joint owner and joint beneficiary. These could focus on energy, value-added manufacturing, food production and tourism.

Individual Caribbean countries may not be considered acceptable risks for loans and investment, particularly in today’s market, but a combination of them would be an attractive proposition. Not many areas of the world offer the backing of a wide range of commodities and services that the Caribbean has: bauxite, manganese, asphalt, oil, gas, sugar, rice, nutmeg, coffee, cocoa, a variety of fruits, flowers, animal, poultry, fish, forestry, gold, diamonds, tourism, financial services, and the potential for geo-thermal and solar energy.

Each country has resources, but by themselves, except for oil, gas and gold, they are not sufficient to attract major investment or to provide access to capital on the international market. And even in oil, gas and gold, capital investments are less attractive when the risk is being taken in one country alone and where only one government is the borrower or acts as guarantor.

Of course, governments must devise national solutions to all their problems, not only the economic ones. This calls for innovative ideas; for practical plans and creative management; and for implementation capacity. But, Caribbean governments are fortunate in having a further string to their bow – regional collaboration. Both paths should be pursued simultaneously.

There is nothing to lose, and there would be a good shot at curing some of the ills that now befall each country without exception.

 

(Sir Ronald Sanders is a Consultant, Senior Fellow at London University and former Caribbean diplomat)

The Grenada Tourism trend

Grenada Tourism product is rated by the F.C.C.A. as above average, therefore, it is left up to us as Tour Operators, Taxi Drivers, and the other stake holders to make it better by including the right government policies to take this vital industry, where it belongs.

By now, we should understand that Cuba is now unfolding on its way to the democratic process, which will be a direct threat to tourism arrivals in the English-speaking Caribbean as an American choice destination as soon as the US embargo is ended.

Let us not forget that Cuba was known as the Pearl of the Caribbean, or the little Paris of the Caribbean. Cuba has an infrastructure that is poised for takeoff and they will hit the ground running.

Generally speaking the world economy today is based on tourism like it or not, it’s a reality that we all have to face.

We all have been calling on especially the politicians for a flag ship Hotel and we have finally found one and it seems that others are soon to be followed.

Let us do not make the mistake by neglecting our smaller properties like the Spice Island Resort, which has been a home-grown property which has been recognised as a model Hotel wining various international awards for not just in Grenada but the Caribbean and the world which is owned by Grenadians, which has been serving the tourism industry for decades.

My plea is, they are also entitled to the same concessions and other benefits and recognition that the international brands are receiving.

We should make sure that when this tourism pie is baked all of these properties should receive a slice of it.

For too long we have always been focusing on the international brands which may be good for more flights coming to Grenada etc. but we have to recognise the Hoteliers especially those who have made a difference in time of real crisis.

I will like to recognise the Gems and Kalinago Hotels Manager and owner, Julia Moore and family for maybe the most beautiful span of beach property anywhere in Grenada which spell the true nature of a GEM, together with the Flamboyant Hotel, where lots of regional tourists visit especially from Trinidad & Tobago as a get-a-way spot in the slow tourist season with it phenomenal panoramic view of St George.

The same small Hoteliers are the same ones who have been on the receiving end of the 1983 military intervention or invasion, Hurricane Ivan, the world economic downturn, and much more and still had to keep their employees pay check running, even when there was no business.

I will like to personally recognise the owner and manager of the True Blue Bay Resort, Rus and his family, as well as his professional staff, that is unmatched, when it comes to service, as often attested to by the guests as a beautiful resort for taking the lead role in bringing back the RC school at Vendome with other donations received, other agencies and NGOS where these students could now be in a much better and safer learning environment.

I think this is an excellent initiative, and a good example of giving back to the community, more of this initiative is needed from the corporate sector.

There are some businesses who make a great surplus profit and still do not even pay their taxes.

There are other foreign companies who after sucking the blood of the country only to declare bankruptcy and move to another destination for another ten years – wake up and smell the coffee.

I will love to see the international brands like Sandals who have received monumental concessions and other favourable conditions, for millions of dollars by our governments, for the next twenty five years, I do hope that they will be giving back to the country and the needy social institutions that are so much in need, or having in mind the socio-economic development of this country, which have been raped of her resources time and time again.

I do hope that we will learn from those mistakes.

Kennedy Jawahir

Unrealistic expectations

To many of us the New Year brings new hope, new zeal – high expectations. With the best of intentions we make resolutions and in the midst of the season’s euphoria swear on the family bible that this time we will make good on the promise to ourselves. But as days turn into weeks and months our resolve dwindles – conditions change, the pressure of daily life looks much different from “inside” – a dose of reality strikes like lightning from the sky. The optimism we befriended becomes our worst enemy.

Well, there is always next year. Always next year!

And so it is with politicians – they are a microcosm of the population – no more, no less, human and fallible than the rest of us. Politicians though are perceived as the beast of a unique ilk; they carry the nation’s burden on their shoulders.

Those to whom much is given, much is expected. We have given them a mandate, they have wide latitude and we are merciless in our expectations. The heavy courtship and love affair throughout the campaign and all the right flirtatious words in the manifesto are the smoking guns aimed as we encircle and corral political caravans. None shall escape!

Do we have a double standard – one standard for ourselves year after year making resolutions that we are perfectly satisfied with not keeping, but holding politicians rigidly to promises often made under difficult and uncertain circumstances (hoping for the best) in an imperfect world?

We have much more control over our personal lives than politicians have over governing the country. They must deal with a bureaucratic culture that can severely constrain the adoption of campaign policies and timely delivery of critical services, or short-circuit or delay implementation of crucial social and infrastructural programs – not forgetting the inevitable heavy-handed influence of international donors and lenders.

Success depends on developing relationships of trust internationally over time and loyalty within the Civil Service, but John Public’s patience is thin and expects instant gratification. Our thoughts and actions seem to be robotically pre-programmed by state-of-the-art computer technology where everything is possible and with the press of a button the resources of government can instantaneously turn water into wine – miracles are passé. But we resist to the last man (or woman?) any move to tax – transfer necessary resources to government – unless we can personally benefit. Unrealistic expectations, be the judge.

Is it really a bad thing to have at a particular point and time expectations that seem unrealistic? President John Kennedy’s vision of landing a man on the Moon in ten years, at that point and time seemed an impossible task; he made it a reality. Creative thinkers strive for perfection and make the impossible possible.

The writer has created a simple Unrealistic Expectations definition chart: to the left, unspeakable selfishness; to the right, must always be perfect. Follow the Mathematical Chart to determine where you belong; left or right or somewhere in between.

Unspeakable Selfishness < Unrealistic Expectations < Must Always Be Perfect.

Rate yourself on a scale of -5 to +5: minus five (-5) unspeakable selfishness; plus five (+5) must always be perfect. Be honest, have fun! (-5 – 4 -3 -2 -1 – 0 +1+2 +3 +4 +5)

 

Kit Stonewalling

NDC is much bigger than political parasites and insurrectionists

Efforts by certain known anti-democratic elements to undermine the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the party’s national convention on February 2 is in an exercise of futility and is wasting their time and energy. It is too late to stop the NDC yellow team in selecting a new political leader and future prime minister to represent the best interest of the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique,

The NDC is a political organisation that is fully committed to the democratic process. Every member or supporter of the organisation is free to express their views and opinion without fear, favour or ill-will. The party is all inclusive not in words but also in deeds with persons having their democratic rights to join and leave the party willingly. William Joseph is no exception.

William Joseph, former chief of staff in the NDC administration, resignation from the party was voluntary. It may be legitimate; however, his reasons for doing so are disingenuous, callous, anti democratic and downright ungrateful. It is as a result of the action of elements like William Joseph, Chester Humphrey, Peter David, Joseph Gilbert, Michael Church, Hamlet Mark and their cronies that Dr Mitchell has such a “bulldozer ” mentality towards the people of Grenada, including members of his own party and cabinet. He understands that, to survive in the Grenadian vicious political environment, he has to be ruthless. The entire country is suffering as a result of the personality battles between these men over the years.

The psychosomatic behaviour, contradictions, inconsistencies, lack of principle and moral bankruptcy of these elements speaks volume to the personality. These political miscreants seem incapable of dealing with the crisis that they are currently experiencing yet they want to lead a country and its people. The long term interest of the National Democratic Congress is better served with these elements out of the party.

Their hypocrisy, deceit, ungratefulness, vile and intellectual dishonesty is way beyond the imagination of any sensible human being. Dr Mitchell doesn’t trust anybody, having battled with these political prostitutes and pimps for years. The entire country is now suffering as a result of the callousness and deception of these serpent minded individuals and their likes.

Dr Mitchell once said that two bore rats can’t live in the same hole; it would be very interesting to see how all these ‘bore rats’ would live in the same hole. Dr Mitchell is slowly unmasking those masked men for the entire nation to see. Those that are morally bankrupt and unconscionable. Their day, when they will be finally held accountable by the people, is fast approaching.

The National Democratic Congress is a revered organisation. The party has thousands of very passionate members and supporters throughout the length and breadth of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. The worst is over for the party and a new and vibrant breed of leaders in the persons of Nazim Burke, Franka Bernadine, George Vincent, Joseph Andall, Randell Robinson, Patrick Simmonds, Terry Hillaire, Ali Dowden, Adrian Persuader Thomas, Jenny Rapier, etc., supported by many political activists will carry the mantle and take the party forward to the next elections and beyond.

The transition from the party of the old to a new brand NDC is fully in progress. There is no turning back. The popular radio talk show host political activist Bro. Kem Jones is a rising star, bringing the message of the NDC to various corners of the country. In the words of Hon Franka Alexis Bernadine, chairman of the party, the NDC is united, alive and well.

Despite the subtleness of many detractors, the party is making steady progress and gaining in strength by recruiting many hundreds of new members. The task is far from over, however. There are thousands of Grenadians with clean hands and a pure heart willing and ready to fight for and die for what the NDC stands for: freedom of speech, the right to work, freedom of association, freedom to worship, rule of law, accountability, transparency and good governance.

Thousands of citizens would prefer to die as a poor NDC supporter instead of a political or economic iguana under Dr Mitchell and the NNP.

The National Democratic Congress, with a very solid base of over 22,000 members and supporters, is the party of the future. NDCites are a proud people who believe in the ideals of their party. The political pimps are fully aware of this and are working overnight to destroy the party and its leadership. They have failed in the past and they will continue to fail since God and time is on the side of the NDC.

Poor William Joseph is grossly misguided when he indicated that Hon Nazim Burke is unfit to lead, criticising him as to be against divergent views and a proponent of censorship and exclusion. This is the same man who worked in his capacity as chief of staff in the same administration that Hon Nazim Burke worked as a minister of finance. William then heaped praise on the way the economy was managed. A few months later he is singing the song of hate and spite to please his new found parasitic team.

Joseph rantings would have been more appropriately and relevant had he used them in describing the actions of the current Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, who has absolutely no inclination for any form of dissent and opposition. The alleged recent bashing of his own minister of tourism Hon Alexandria Otway Noel and his sending into exile of his senior economic adviser Dr Patrick Antoine is gleaming evidence of the traits Willie espoused . Even the blind could see and the deaf could hear the silence of the media that is so strictly censored and manipulated by the powers that be.

It is high time that these political troublemakers wake up from their coma after taking a dose of self administered anesthesia. These individuals are behaving like high school bullies who, having lost a game, decide to wreck the entire team and tournament because of their selfishness. They have to realize that the NDC is bigger than any individual and is here to stay. They shall never destroy this political organization no matter how hard they may try. NDC is in the genes of thousands of ambitious Grenadians.

Come February 2, 2014, to the dismay and disappointment of Chester Humphrey, Peter David, Joseph Gilbert, Michael Church, Karl Hood, Glynis Roberts, Arley Gill, Ferron Lowe, Siddiqui, Jerome Joseph, William Joseph, Keith Mitchell and the NNP, the collaborators, naysayers the delegates of the National Democratic Congress shall be electing a new political leader and deputy political leader and the most likely choices will be your humble servants brother Nazim V Burke and sister Franka Alexis Bernadine.  This duo will be ably assisted by a united national executive and grassroots team that will propel the NDC to victory in the next general elections. Be advised that no unnecessary and misguided resignation, sensationalism or propaganda would torpedo this very important national political process and event unfolding in a strong, united and very formidable political organisation, the National Democratic Congress.

Forward, ever! Backward, never!

NDC united shall never be defeated!

 

Grenadian Class

Law firm in Grenada mourns his passing

Karl Terrence Hudson-Phillips

Karl Terrence Hudson-Phillips

The Grenada law firm of Henry Hudson-Phillips & Co continues to mourn the passing of its Head of Chambers, Karl Terrence Hudson-Phillips, QC who passed away last week Thursday while on a visit to England.

In a statement from its St George’s, Grenada, office the law firm said: “Also mourning his passing are his family including his surviving wife Mrs Cathy Hudson-Phillips, three children including attorney-at-law Jennifer Hudson-Phillips, niece Elaine Green (both members of the chambers) and the legal fraternity of Grenada, Trinidad and the wider Caribbean.”

The statement added: “We shall forever be inspired by his intellectual acumen, tremendous advocacy skills, professionalism, fastidiousness and passionate love for the law. No doubt the Caribbean will also reflect with justifiable pride on the achievements and contributions of this brilliant Caribbean man. He has left a void which will not easily be filled.”

 

Lydon Lewis disagrees with Bowen

GUT President - Lydon Lewis

GUT President – Lydon Lewis

President of the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT), Lydon Lewis has scoffed at claims made by Communications & Works Minister, Gregory Bowen that the trade unions in the country are in 90% agreement on issues relating to salary increases for the period 2013-16 with government.

Lewis was approached on the issue by THE NEW TODAY following the weekly Post-Cabinet press briefing that featured Minister Bowen.

He told this newspaper that after listening to the senior government minister, he can state categorically that there is not any such agreement on the table and would await a meeting scheduled for Wednesday (two days ago) to be informed on which trade union had made this 90% agreement.

Government has dropped hints that it wanted the public sector unions in Grenada to agree to a wage freeze for the next three years.

Apart from GUT, the two other public sector unions on the island are the Public Workers Union (PWU) headed by Adrian Francis and the Grenada Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) of which Chester Humphrey is the President-General.

Minister Bowen was asked at the press briefing for an update on the Letter of Intent to be signed with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of the self-styled homegrown Structural Adjustment Programme to arrest the severe financial and economic crisis affecting the island.

The eleven-month-old Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government in St. George’s has failed to keep its promise to sign the much talked about Letter, which is a key component of the programme.

Bowen confirmed that the agreement has not been signed and government was hopeful of doing so in a matter of weeks.

He said there was no particular reason responsible for the delay in signing the agreement, which should have been at the end of November.

He added that Permanent in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine and his deputy, Mike Sylvester both visited Washington “to finalise a lot of things and they’re back and right now we’re looking at two aspects of it basically to get the unions and to come off and say that at what level we expect the increase in wages to be”.

“Of course the IMF would want some guaranteed statement from the union to say well we would hold wages at this 0 or .1% as the case, but very small”, he said.

When asked what would happens if the trade unions rejected government’s proposals, Bowen responded: “Two things could really happen, You could go straight into this (IMF agreement) and make a commitment without your partners and then everyone would have to abide by that, but we have been consulting with persons throughout, and we have had the sentiment of the trade unions that they support the programme.

“All we have to do now is concretise and finalise it after the

Permanent Secretaries (Antoine and Sylvester) would have come in only one week ago … so whatever development (with the visit to the IMF) would be brought and discussed with the trade union again early this week, tomorrow (Wednesday)”, he said.

According to Bowen, “a lot of discussions have gone on already and agreement (has) already been reached – nearly 90% of all the things that they would have discussed already”.

“So I think there is a limited side to it that they would be discussing tomorrow”, he added.

The GUT President has already stated publicly that he will not be rushed into signing any deal with government despite of whatever commitment it might have to make with the IMF.

“So the Prime Minister has his deadlines, fine, we understand that, but the GUT would not be pressured into making any hurried decision by the Prime Minister or anybody,” Lewis told the media during a news conference in 2013.

 

 

World Press Body Suspicious of Grenada on Electronic Crime Bill

VIENNA – Grenada quietly allowed a controversial electronic defamation bill to become law last October despite government promises of reform, the International Press Institute (IPI) has learned from local sources.

On Sept. 23, 2013, Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, responding to concerns that IPI and other groups had raised about the Electronic Crimes Bill, publicly announced: “I have agreed to make the necessary changes, after having discussions with members of the local and regional media, so that there will be no doubt about the intention of the country.”

However, no changes were made. Instead, on the same day that Mitchell promised to reform the bill, Governor-General Cécile La Grenade granted it royal assent.

According to Grenada’s official Government Gazette, the Electronic Crimes Act was published on Oct. 3, 2013.

Last week, Grenadian news outlets, citing a government minister as the source, reported that the law was now in effect.

The published version, seen by IPI, contains no alterations to the specific sections that regional and international press freedom groups highlighted as problematic.

These included Section 6, which would mandate up to one year in prison for sending by electronic means information that is “grossly offensive” or is known to be false but was reproduced in order to cause “annoyance”, “insult” or “ill will”.

“We are, indeed, surprised to find out that this bill was granted royal assent on the same day that the Prime Minister promised to reform it to better reflect international standards on freedom of expression,” IPI Press Freedom Manager Barbara Trionfi said.

“Certainly, this calls into question whether the government was ever really serious about ensuring that this Act would not harm the free flow of information and opinion in Grenada.”

She added: “We hope the government will prove us wrong on this point by quickly introducing an amendment that would answer the significant concerns regarding this Act.”

Other controversial sections left untouched include Section 25, which provides that a police officer may, without a warrant, arrest a person “reasonably suspected of committing an offence” under the Act; and Section 16, which punishes “electronic stalking” – defined as “intimidating, coercing, or annoying another person using an electronic system” –-with up to three years in prison.

In addition to its other concerns, IPI has criticised the law’s broad application.

According to Section 3, the law applies not only to all residents, visitors, and transit passengers in Grenada, but also to “any person, of any nationality or citizenship or in any place outside or inside Grenada, having an effect on the security of Grenada or its nationals”.

That clause was also not altered.

The law is apparently intended to target social networking sites as well as the reader comment sections of online media.

Trionfi acknowledged that a legitimate interest exists in addressing defamatory content in those media.

However, she commented: “Requiring these types of websites to police all content posted by others would not only impose an unreasonable burden on the hosts, but lead to a chilling effect on public speech as the hosts seek to limit potential liability”

“A better solution would be to allow hosts time to remove defamatory content if they receive a complaint, with the understanding that they would be subject to normal provisions in civil defamation law if they fail to do so”, she added.

Last week, Grenada’s Communications Minister Gregory Bowen reportedly told GBN News that the Act was now in effect (that a law is “gazetted” does not by itself imply that the law is in effect; in this case, the published version states that the Act would come into effect at “a date to be fixed”).

In a recording broadcast by the station, the minister claimed that the government “went to the people who had concerns and all of that would have been clarified.”

The news has stirred public debate in Grenada over the Prime Minister’s Sept. 23 statement.

Kem Jones, a local radio host on 90.1 LiveWire, said today on his morning programme: “We were given a promise that this particular bill, that before assenting to it, it would be changed so that it would reflect the true nature of the Grenadian people.”

Jones told listeners that the development demonstrated: “The government can deceive you – say one thing and do the next.”

The manner in which the Mitchell government has proceeded to enact the Electronic Crime Bill has not goner down well with Sports Journalist Michael Bascombe who is based in New York in the United States.

Bascombe made the following comment on the issue: “… I’m very disappointed with the Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG), an organisation which I once headed and considered will fulfill the dreams and aspirations of some of our forefathers – the likes of T.A. Marryshow and Alister Hughes, and even Leslie Pierre.

“I am also disappointed with some of my media colleagues who continue to remain silent on this issue. This is not about whether it will affect the media or not, but criminalising expression and opinion. Who determines that my comments are “grossly offensive”, “annoying” or “insulting”?

“Here is my plug now! Couldn’t they have spent some of that time used in drafting and passing this bill into ensuring that the National Sports Policy is implemented? However, of particular interest to me is this: “any person, of any nationality or citizenship or in any place outside or inside Grenada, having an effect on the security of Grenada or its nationals”.