officials reject last night’s NUPW vote
That’s how Walter Maloney, the longest serving president of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), has described last night’s proceedings that involved a no confidence motion against his successor Akanni McDowall.
Maloney, who stepped down a year ago after serving ten years as NUPW president, told Barbados TODAY that General Secretary Roslyn Smith could not escape blame for not circulating the evidence to support the charges against McDowall.
He said the availability of such information could have assisted voters in making a more informed decision one way or another. The motion was defeated by a vote of 168 to 48.
“I didn’t spend too much time in there [at the special general meeting] because after not issuing the evidence, I thought it became a farce actually,” Maloney said, pointing out that based on what people were saying during the meeting, it was clear that a lot of them did not understand the rules and standing orders of their own organization.
Maloney, who worked with two of the union’s most revered general secretaries, Joseph Goddard and Dennis Clarke, noted that once charges were brought, all corroborating evidence ought to have been produced.
“Yesterday evening when the members turned up, they should have been issued with a package, not only with the charges but also with the corroborating evidence . . ., so people could have made informed decisions as to whether anything untoward was done,’ said the former NUPW president, specifically referring to an issue involving the union’s health insurance plan.
He said after that was not done, he withdrew from the proceedings because one could not have a union which fights for natural justice on one hand, then refusing to adhere to it on the other.
“You can’t be on one hand saying that and then you are not producing the evidence, or giving the person the opportunity to properly represent themselves. I saw that as an indictment on the General Secretary and the secretariat. Should never have happened [and] it made us look very inept, to be honest with you,” Maloney said.
He suggested that the behaviour of some members appeared to give credence to persistent comments by McDowall leading up to the no confidence motion, that it was motivated by politics.
“What started to play out . . . last night was a division between so-called Barbados Labour Party supporters and Democratic Labour Party supporters; because I heard some people in the back, and it was clear that, he is a B, he is a D,” Maloney said.
He thought this was unfortunate because, in his assessment, the charges against his successor had nothing to do with politics, but were all about procedure.
The former NUPW president also took a turn in the current leadership of the union, while making it clear that he was not specifically referring to the president.
“It is the persons who run the organization you have to be more concerned about. Unfortunately, there is some disarray among the leadership. I am talking about the secretariat,” he said.
Smith also publicly weighing in on the no confidence motion for the first time, rejecting Maloney’s criticisms of her in relation to providing the supporting evidence. She told Barbados TODAY those who brought the action should have learnt their lesson now that it has been defeated.
“Given the fact that they submitted the motion, they [should] recognize that they have to ensure that they provide the correct evidence to substantiate the motion,” Smith said, adding that it was not for her to learn from what took place, because she has been there, done that.
Smith said she believed the motion was defeated because its authors did not provide the required evidence to the meeting.
“Persons who come to do any future motions have to ensure that they check with the rules of the union; ensure that they get the necessary evidence. But you can’t bring a motion and expect me to push the motion.
“If I brought a motion, I would have the evidence.”
The general secretary also condemned the unruly behaviour displayed by some members during last night’s meeting.
“The bad behaviour is nothing that we will condone,” she said.
Kimberley Agard, the person who moved the motion, also told Barbados TODAY she was disappointed with the disorderly conduct of some who turned out to the meeting.
Agard said she wanted the meeting to generate robust debate on all the issues surrounding the charges brought against the president.
“I don’t think we got that level of discussion [or] that level of opposition. I recognized last night that persons came there, not with open minds and they were hell-bent on what they came to do, and that was to vote to keep the president there. Persons said that was their only intention. They were not prepared to embrace discussion,” she said.