President of the Public Service Union, Elroy Boucher. (IWN file photo)

President of the Public Service Union (PSU), Elroy Boucher, says he does not believe that the decision by at least one member of his executive to break the one-day strike earlier this month was a commentary on his leadership or reason for him to resign.

“No. I have given my opinion on that. I am convinced that these executive members’ loyalty lies with the party they support … I know these folks support a particular party,” Boucher told a news conference this week.

The PSU and the Teachers’ Union called the strike on Oct. 13 in an attempt to pressure the government to pay public sector workers one month’s salary, tax-free in lieu of salary increases since 2011.

However, four executive members of the Teachers’ Union disregarded the strike and went to work.

They are: First-Vice President Sheldon Govia, General Secretary, Margaret Lewis-Jackson, Assistant General Secretary, Jane Farrell, and Maxwell Jones, a committee member.

Boucher said he was informed that his 1st Vice-President, Leroy James, also went to work, but has been unable to verify this with James as he is out of state.

“Their commitment, obviously, in my opinion is with the political party and not with the union and its membership. I say that without water in my mouth. I’ve seen enough to tell me that for some of them in particular,” Boucher said of all but one member of his executive who broke the strike.

Boucher said he will be calling on those executive members who broke the strike to resign and said the Teachers’ Union should make a similar demand.

He said that when the executive of both unions met to discuss industrial action, only Sheldon Govia was absent.

“When we asked the question if there was any objection to the action that was about to be taken by the union, one person stated her objection and that was Margaret, the General Secretary from Teachers’ [Union],” Boucher said.

He said that after she was convinced that her argument “didn’t hold merit, she gave way and said she supports.

“If the majority of the executive members present had said to us that they do not think we ought to take such an action, I assure you that action would not have been taken because we needed the support of everybody.

“They gave us the assurance that they were in support. So it was quite shocking, disappointment that persons within both executives will break the strike. It raises some serious questions about trust and principles, and even the very word integrity. If you give somebody your word, you expect them to stick to their word.

“How could you, therefore, sit with these very people and make decisions? How can you trust them to carry out the mandate of the membership?

“I am convinced that those actions were taken because those executive members have a loyalty to their political party versus a commitment to the trade union and to the workers they are supposed to represent.”

Boucher, however, said no executive member of a trade union should have such a loyalty to a political party {so] that it “totally excludes your responsibility to your union and the membership”.

He said such persons should not be part of the executive of a trade union.

“Because, when parties change, you still have to represent the workers. The workers will always be there. They are the workers and their allegiance first should be to the workers of the country, as opposed to any political party.”

At the news conference, Boucher called for the resignation of Commissioner of Police, Michael Charles, who has worn red suits to rallies of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP), whose colour is red, and has been photographed displaying the party’s “4 inna row” campaign hand sign.

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Asked if he will make a similar call for union executives to resign, Boucher said:

“I will call for them to resign but that decision doesn’t lie with me. It lies with the general membership and I expect the Teachers’ Union will do the same. Because the fundamental thing is it is difficult, it calls for trust and openness. It’s a basic principle.”

He lauded executive member of the PSU, Elizabeth Williams, who he said stated her position and stuck to it.

“But these are people who sat down and agreed. They said nothing adverse to the action that we were about to take.”

When asked, Boucher said the union executive didn’t say anything in favour but when they asked to speak up if they were not in favour of the strike action, only Lewis-Jackson registered her concerns.

He said Lewis-Jackson’s position was that the union should go back to the membership and this was countered by saying the membership had already given the union a mandate.

“Those were legitimate questions, but she turned around and agreed and went to work,” Boucher said.

3 replies on “Union head Elroy Boucher doesn’t think he should resign  ”

  1. Mr Boucher, their commitment is with Ralph Gonsalves not the party, they want to touch the hem of his robes and find financial fortune.

    They well know that the alternative could well be spite, malice and no job.

    1. Peter, you must know that this ill advised strike was called without a strike vote from the membership which is contrary to their constitution. Boucher doesn’t even have the self respect to resign when it is crystal clear that he has lost the confidence of his membership.

  2. What a bunch of pathetic and dispirited people. The whole executive should be run out by the rank-and-file.

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