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PSA president charges violation of constitution
Seven executive members of the Public Services Association (PSA) are outraged at their recent suspension by PSA president Watson Duke. He released a statement on January 18 announcing that seven executive members of the PSA were suspended with immediate effect owing to allegations of violation of the PSA’s constitution.
It said, as a result, the officers were not authorised to do any business or make any representation on behalf of the PSA. They are Rosanna Robinson, Rendy Bedasie, Paula Prescott, Yvonne de Peiza, Alim Abdul-Hakim, Demetrius Harrison and Raymond Butler. The statement also said the officers were expected to appear before the general council on January 31 ro answer allegations of violation of the PSA constitution.
Some of the suspended PSA members held a press conference yesterday at the OWTU Hall, Henry Street, Port-of-Spain, to inform the public of what they referred to as the “atrocities taking place within the PSA.” First vice-president Rosanna Robinson said the most recent action of Duke to debar executive officers from the PSA offices was preventing them from carrying out their elected functions.
She said since the reinstatement of the previously suspended officers in late November 2012, they had not been reoriented into the PSA nor did they take part in any executive committee meeting called by Duke. She said because of that they viewed Duke’s latest action and the general council to suspend them once more as “unfair and unjust”.
“Effectively, the mechanism of the union has collapsed, as the general council has become a rubber stamp of Duke’s actions,” said Robinson. She said what made the situation more “obscene and vulgar” was that the matter was still before the High Court. She described that as an act of contempt. Robinson said when she and other executive members were reinstated late last year, there were still non-elected officers named as signatories to the financial institutions of the PSA.
She said that issue was brought to Duke's attention and it was decided at the level of the executive committee to remove such individuals as signatories. She said while Duke called the meeting, he did not attend. Robinson also said Duke recently signed an agreement with the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) over people who were not elected officers of the union. She said the CPO accepted that without question and that action cost each public officer between $10,000 and $15,000 in backpay.
She added: “Information coming to us has indicated there is an alleged agreement of an acceptance of nine per cent, once again in a clandestine manner.” She said that was for the period 2011 to 2013 and added that once the negotiation was completed, it would place public officers at another disadvantage. “Who is Mr Duke really working for? Certainly not the members as we continue to lose under his leadership,” said Robinson.
Referring to $4 million of PSA membership funds, which she said were removed from a First Citizens Bank account “under highly questionable circumstances,” she said to date Duke has not given any account of that to the executive committee. She said information from a conference indicated that upon completion of the PSA’s luxury housing development project at La Fortresse, Long Circular, the organisation stood to benefit by $40 million.
“Yet, through a recent agreement, the PSA, under Duke, will now only receive $25 million,” said Robinson. She described the difference of $15 million as worrisome. She asked why Duke would choose to settle for a reduced sum and who stood to benefit from the $15 million difference. She said general council minutes, dated November 15, 2012, “reflected officers asking for $1 million each to support the buyout of the $25 million La Fortresse project.”
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