Battle won

NUPW President lives to fight another day

The general membership of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) has spoken.

And based on the outcome of tonight’s no confidence motion, there can be no doubt who is in charge of the affairs of this island’s largest public sector union.

NUPW President Akanni McDowall holds aloft the hand of his legal representative Tanya Goddard as supporters throng him following tonight’s unsuccessful no confidence motion against him.
NUPW President Akanni McDowall holds aloft the hand of his legal representative Tanya Goddard as supporters throng him following tonight’s unsuccessful no confidence motion against him.

With a vote of 168 to 45, which came with seven abstentions, the embattled NUPW President Akanni McDowall tonight survived his biggest test since he took over the reins of the union on April 1, 2015.

After successfully overcoming the second attempt in as many months to remove him from the helm, a beaming McDowall immediately sought to mend fences within the union.

“I would like to thank all of the members who turned up this evening, even the ones who did not vote for me. I represent people who support me and who do not,” said McDowall at the end of a highly contentious four-hour meeting at the union’s Dalkeith headquarters that was marked by the flaring of tempers.

“My goal is to make sure that I give the best possible representation to the membership,” the NUPW leader said, while also expressing disappointment over the apparent division in the union that led to the tabling of the no confidence motion against him.

The main bone of contention was the recent transfer of the NUPW’s Medicare scheme to Sagicor, with Capita Financial Services acting as brokers, after the Insurance Corporation of Barbados coverage came to an end.

The motion, which was proposed tonight by NUPW member Kimberley Agard, charged that contrary to a decision of the National Council, which is the union’s highest decision-making body, McDowall had sought to overturn the decision.

“The President of the National Union of Public Workers has no authority to issue any such instruction without a directive from the Council,” the motion specifically stated.

It was strongly backed up by former NUPW executive member Derek Alleyne, who argued that the attempt to switch the medical coverage from Sagicor to another insurance company, would have resulted in a doubling of the premiums to members.

“It might not mean anything to the younger members but it means something to me at age 62,” Alleyne could be heard through the door saying, even though the meeting was closed to members of the press.

However, McDowall, who has been in the forefront of NUPW demands for a 23 per cent wage increase for Government workers, is maintaining that the move to oust him was politically motivated.

“Although I am successful tonight I am a bit disappointed because what we would have seen here would have been a division in the union and that goes against the very definition of what a union stands for.

“My task ahead is to unite as many people as possible so that we can have a strong unified union going forward. Now that this is over I can now ensure that public servants get a salary increase and temporary workers appointed,” the union president told reporters gathered outside the auditorium at the conclusion of the lengthy process.

Among the charges contained in the two-page document, which was distributed to members in the packed auditorium this evening, was that McDowall recently attended a ‘March for Justice’ organized by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party. This was seen by the proposers of the motion as inimical to the interests of the union and as having “the potential to divide and fracture the membership of the National Union of Public Workers”.

However, instead of a show of no confidence, McDowall walked with the membership’s strong backing.

This does not mean that tonight’s process was always plain sailing or without rancour.

It was just after 5 p.m. when McDowall entered the packed auditorium accompanied by his legal counsel Tanya Goddard and the union’s Treasurer Asokore Beckles.

Even then, it could be easily recognized that he still retained the support of a majority of the membership based on the loud applause he received.

However, pandemonium broke out around 8:30 p.m. when chairperson of this evening’s special general meeting, 1st Vice- President Joy-Ann Inniss, called for a show of hands by those who were against the no confidence motion.

Immediately, 168 persons pushed their hands in the air and there was a loud roar from within the gathering.

Earlier, the NUPW president had attempted to sit at the head table with other members of the union’s executive but NUPW General Secretary Roslyn Smith and Inniss both raised strong objection.

McDowall was then forced to sit in the front row of the auditorium with his legal counsel who was granted “observer status” by Inniss, even while raising strong objection to the lawyer making representation on behalf of McDowall during the four hour-long meeting, which had to be adjourned on several occasions.

The president also ran up against a major roadblock when he sought to have the union’s 2nd Vice President Fabian Jones act as chairman of the meeting. McDowall later gave in to a suggestion from the head table that Inniss be appointed chairperson instead.

During the highly charged meeting several speakers presented their arguments for and against with much passion forcing the chairperson to call for order on several occasions. There were even some cooling off adjournments of five and ten minutes that were called by Inniss.

In the midst of it all, the leader of the NUPW’s Sanitation Service Authority Division Hugh Smith was overheard saying: “If they oust McDowall tonight I will be encouraging the members at the SSA to withdraw themselves from the union.”

Another worker also expressed his dissatisfaction with the motion saying, “We need strong leadership like that offered by McDowall and his executive.

“When the Government laid off thousands of workers under the former [NUPW] leadership there was no talk of no-confidence motions in their leadership,” that member added.

However, the greatest show of support for McDowall was reserved for the very end as he emerged from the auditorium at the conclusion of the meeting just before 9 p.m. The President was hugged and kissed by several female members of the crowd, as his male supporters generously gave out pats on the back.

Meanwhile, when asked to comment on the outcome of the special general meeting, Alleyne said: “Democracy was at work this evening.”

7 Responses to Battle won

  1. Anne Ince
    Anne Ince June 10, 2016 at 12:40 am

    Kudos….continue to do your job…..

  2. BaJan boy June 10, 2016 at 12:58 am

    FREUNDEL Stuart LET Derek Alleyne keep the big job the Thompson gave him and this is Derek’s turn to repay by stopping the salary increase and taking the pressure off the government . At least the members are more sensible and furthermore I don’t see why the Union should be compromising itself and member with the insurance program just to please Derek Alleyne.

  3. Sherlock Holmes. June 10, 2016 at 5:04 am

    All i see ia all of this is a divided union,it is clear that even the general secretary has lost confidence in him,i have the notion that this win is not a true reflection of the union;s desires i can see political influence at work.I can bet that it will not be smooth sailing for the so called president anymore,he now really has a task of getting that support he believes he has, and knowing him the folly on his part will continue,he is just an immature youngster and it was remonstrated in the way he responded to this whole issue i am certain that he will create more problems for himself as he just cannot help it,to all of the doubters just wait and see,it will not be long in coming.

  4. dave June 10, 2016 at 6:35 am

    The NUPW is made up of different persons with different opinions and there will always be what appears to be dis-unity. Nothing new. One remembers attempts to oust Joseph Goddard and the membership having to support Mr Goddard, one of the finest Trade Unionists in Barbados. The Dems are playing a lot of political games, they are good at that –and thats all –The Dems do not know how to bring this Country to prosperity and have always behave in a kind of nasty sluttish way that if they are allowed to continue will totally sink this Country lower than the Junk -Bond Status than we have been reduced to . This lot is an inept bunch of half-baked political administrators who cannot be given a third term and who should have been kicked out of Office after one term but who begged for a second term , told lies (the old lady on the Bus) ,and who some say did ‘other things’ to continue the nonsense they started in the 1986 to 1991 period and the 1991 -1994 period when members of their own Parliamentary team had to save this Country form the folly of Sandiford by enabling the No Confidence Motion against their own party in Government. A similar thing should happen now. I have advised Donville Inniss to look to oust Freundel Stuart. Donville needs to make his move now if he is serious or he will lose out big-time politically. Politics is no joke thing . Stuart has secured his pension -a Prime Minister’ pension. Freundel Stuart is not in the mould of Errol Walton; Tom Adams or Owen Seymour and as a matter of fact pales in comparison so much so that he makes Erskine Sandiford look like Winston Churchill. Stuart gave a press conference or press luncheon recently. It came after I said through this forum that he has never done so . It was a waste of time by the way leaving a lot to be desired. Barbados cannot afford this bunch of inept Fooliticians who are not solving problems: auditor general’s report; BRA; Guns on the streets; Vendors; Garbage; Water ; Transport Board; Teachers; -Clico ; Cahill –and the sordid list continues–Cant call all —with apologies to Lil Rick. Enough is Enough – Lets have a Change Now !!!

  5. Gearbox June 10, 2016 at 7:37 am

    The unions are made up of political supporters for both sides, so there is bound to be some friction within the unions from time to time. It’s unfortunate that most Bajans have not yet learn to abandon the idea or political partisanship, and on the real issues and what is best for the majority.

  6. seagul June 10, 2016 at 11:14 am

    …I have advised Donville….blah blah blah….One long winded. Who the cap fits, let them wear it…. ahhhh.

  7. dave June 12, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    Yes , I have advised Donville and if he does not move to time , he will be left behind. Time to make a bid for Leadership of the DLP Mr. Inniss, you are Prime Ministerial -ie Prime Minister material .


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