The Public Service Union (PSU) says it will postpone the election of a new executive until a case brought by former president Cools Vanloo is heard.
A special meeting of members of the Union in September removed the executive from office and fresh elections were slated for tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Incidentally, the election was to take pace one day before the hearing of an injunction subsequently filed to put a halt to the very election.
Vanloo, who was head of the executive that the committee says was disbanded in September, is asking the court to confirm that he is still president of the Union.
But Elroy Boucher and the interim committee he heads say Vanloo and his executive were duly removed from office in keeping with the Union’s constitution.
Boucher told a press conference in Kingstown Monday that the interim committee did not think it appropriate to elect a new executive in the current circumstances.
“The committee met, we had some discussions with members of the Union, we invited persons from the various departments and we had discussions on what should we do as it regards the injunction.
“With advice from our lawyer, we concluded that we really do not wish to do anything to hurt the Union. And in as much as we have been mandated to act and conduct elections by members of the Union, we do not think it would be in the best interest of the PSU to have members vote under the cloud of legal uncertainty which has been brought about by Mr. Vanloo’s claim,” Boucher further said.
“We therefore undertook not to hold elections until cleared by the court. This, of course, is without prejudice to our defence in this particular claim; and this defence, you can be assured, will be vigorously dealt with by the Public Service Union, through its lawyer,” Boucher further said.
Boucher said Vanloo wants to continue at the helm of the Union although he only retains the support of two members of his executive.
He said that Vanloo is asking the court to declare contrary to the Union’s constitution the decision of the meeting in September to remove the Vanloo executive from office.
And while noting that the injunction is slated to be heard one day after the election was originally scheduled to take place, Boucher said that in the interest of the Union at heart, the postponing the meeting was “the only correct and proper thing to do.
“Because this matter is about all [1,200] to 1,400 members of the Public Service Union and we need to realise that the Union is in court. The Union is in court, and I will stress that. Not each of us as committee members, because we are acting on behalf of the membership on their instructions,” Boucher said.
He also said he wanted to make it clear that even members of the Vanloo executive who have been removed from office have written to Vanloo’s counsel saying that they are abiding by the wishes of the general membership.
“They have recognised the authority of the general membership in removing an executive and they have accepted that. Five of them out of the seven have subsequently signed letters and indicated such.
“So, in reality, if you look at it in a practical sense, even if things were reversed, there is no executive in place. There would not be, because five of the members have already accepted the wishes of the general membership,” Boucher said.
“So, we just wish the members … of the Union and the public [to know] that we are only acting in the interest of the members … and nothing else,” he further stated.
He said the court matter is affecting negatively the operations of the Union in that members can’t claim medical relief.
The Union’s bankers, he said, has taken precautions, virtually freezing the Union’s account because of the legal proceedings, Boucher said.
He said that while PSU executives have been recalled in the past, it is the first time that the Union was being taken to court because of such a decision.
Boucher however said that the Union is confident that it will triumph because it acted in keeping with the constitution.
He further stated that it is ironic that the same constitution that Vanloo says was violated, would vindicate the members in the decision they took in September.
(Read previous story: Trade union executive disbanded; president says it’s a hijacking)