Head of the interim committee now leading the Public Service Union (PSU), Elroy Boucher, says the Port Police, who were disbanded this year after they reportedly took industrial action, fell victim to infighting in the union.
A special meeting of the PSU in September removed the Cools Vanloo executive from office and installed the Boucher led group, a move that Vanloo is challenging in court.
Boucher told a press conference earlier this week that the Port Police were “one of the causalities of this lack of communication and relations among executive members” of the PSU.
“It (lack of communication) may not have contributed 90 per cent or 50 per cent but it impacted on that,” he said.
In the wake of an alleged sickout by Port Police officers, Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, told Parliament in March that his government had decided to disband the Port Police and replace them with regular officers from the Royal SVG Police Force.
The Port Police was set up about a decade ago to provide security for the nation’s seaport, after the coming into effect of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.
Boucher said that members of the PSU recognised problems with the former leadership.
“When you have an executive that could not function together for the good of its members, something has to be done. The members recognised that,” he said.
He said that at an earlier general meeting, members recognised the problems the executive was having and urged them to work together.
Boucher further said that the Union’s constitution was amended to recall any member with cause.
“And at that particular time, we did not remove anyone, although if it was done then, it would have been justified,” he said.
“They could not work together. You had them on the platform, couldn’t agree on any one issue, trying to tear each other apart,” he further said of the Vanloo administration.
He said the meeting urged the executive to work together and to try to hold themselves together until elections next March.
“What happened after that? Article in the newspaper by the First Vice-President against the President, charges being brought by the whole executive against the President. What does that say to us as members? That they are not willing to cooperate in the interest of the general interest. Whatever ego or self interest was at play, that was not our business,” Boucher said.
Boucher said that if the entire executive were not removed in September, the president would have had to be recalled, “because the entire executive had problems with him”.
“It is not that people just woke up one morning and say they want to get rid of X or Y,” he said, adding that members acted in the interest of the Union.