McDowall defends Mercedes purchase
If the General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is driving in luxury it is not on the backs of union workers, according to NUPW President Akanni McDowall.
McDowall yesterday denied claims that the union had acquired a “luxury vehicle” for one of its executives “on the backs of public servants”.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Minister of Industry Donville Inniss charged that the union “want to keep noise,” because Government was seeking to restore the 2014 pay cut for parliamentarians but was not prepared to tell its members and the country “the fact that in recent weeks . . . the leadership have taken possession of luxury vehicles for their management.
“The General Secretary of the NUPW [Roslyn Smith] I am told has a brand new luxury class BMW . . . So here is the union buying luxury vehicles when they are saying things are tight but want to criticize,” Inniss told the House.
However, McDowall told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that while Smith would have received a new vehicle, it had not come at a cost to public servants.
“We didn’t spend any money on it. What we did was to trade in the vehicle that we had and used that money to purchase the new one. So, it is not as though we went out there trying to get a Mercedes Benz on the backs of the public servants. We just switched one vehicle for the other,” he explained.
He said the General Secretary needed a new vehicle but the method of financing it was not an issue, describing the minister’s charges as much ado about nothing.
“If we had to go out there and use the money that the membership would give us on a monthly basis to purchase a vehicle then I would have a concern with that, especially since public servants had not received an increase since 2008.
“I do not know if we should be really talking about vehicles because I told Council that I was not confortable even with the option that they gave me, which is to trade in the old one and purchase a new one. But to tell the truth the old one was giving some trouble so the General Secretary needed a vehicle so what we did was to trade in, which the National Council decided,” he said.
McDowall was adamant that the Inniss raised the issue as a diversionary tactic to take the heat off Government over the now controversial decision to restore the ten per cent cut from the salaries of ministers and senior officials.
“It’s just the minister trying to detract from what the real issue is. If the minister wants to have a conversation he should really talk about the ten per cent that he is willing to receive,” McDowall added.