Opposition Leader Godwin Friday has called on public sector unions to join with his New Democratic Party (NDP) to unseat the Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration.
At least one union leader, Elroy Boucher, president of the Public Service Union heard the invitation in person, as he was among the crowd at the NDP’s campaign-style “Hope Rally” in Georgetown, on Saturday.
“This government is pursuing a vendetta against public servants. They are treating the public servants as though they are the enemy,” Friday told the crowd as well as media audiences at the event, which comes half way through the ULP’s fifth consecutive term in office.
“… this is not a time for mincing words. This is a time to stand up. I’ve been saying it recently. When they say you’re standing up, sometimes it means physically standing up, putting yourself on the line,” the opposition leader said.
“So, I want to call the Public Service union, I want to call the Teachers’ Union, I want to call the Police Welfare Association and not just the leadership of those organisations, but the members as well to acknowledge that this is a political solution and to join with the New Democratic Party in bringing this wicked government down,” Friday said.
“We have to join together. We cannot do it alone, because that is how he wishes for us to conduct ourselves — divided so that we can be picked apart. Coming together, we say embrace the offer; make the New Democratic Party, this vehicle of change for all of us and the change will come that we so badly need.”
He reiterated that an NDP administration will end “this policy of victimisation” under which hundreds of public sector workers lost their jobs in December 2021 under the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The High Court has ruled that the government acted illegally in the way it implemented the mandate and that the workers never ceased to hold their posts.
The court has further ordered that the government pay the workers all monies they would have earned since being off the job as well as damages for the harm caused by the government’s actions.
However, the government has appealed the ruling and the Court of Appeal has granted a stay of execution of the High Court decision, pending the outcome of the appeal.
Friday restated the NDP’s position, saying that an NDP administration would make sure that all workers affected by the vaccine mandate get back their jobs, their pensions and all accumulated benefits.
“Because that is a just and the fair thing to do but it’s more than that, there is a political solution to this problem.”
He said the government has said that if they lose the appeal, they will further appeal to the London-based Privy Council, SVG highest court.
“But right now, there is a political solution to the problem, because an NDP party in government will end the problem,” Friday said.
The opposition leader said that the contents of the speeches at the rally showed that “the prime minister and his people, his ministers, they really don’t care about our people. They cannot care about our people. That is my firm belief.
“They care only about power. And they gave enough to secure themselves in power so that they can use and abuse it as they choose.”
He said that to continue with the ULP administration — which has been in office since March 2001 – “would mean more division; it will mean more suffering; it will mean more politics of spite and victimisation.
“Your political choices shouldn’t decide whether you can get a job. It shouldn’t decide whether your company can bid fairly for a contract. It should not decide if you’re a lawyer that you can get your work processed by government offices that are entitled, that are required to do it.”
The opposition leader said that a person’s political choices are their constitutional, God-given right.
“It should not determine these things for you. It tells you that our country is broken. And what is more serious, if they claim to love people so much, how can you, in God’s name, understand how they have been treating the public servants of this country who for their own valid reasons, for fear or for whatever they chose, decided not to be vaccinated, and the government decided to fire them?
“How can a government that says it cares about people continue to punish these people as though they are enemies of the state?”
He noted that some of the affected public sector workers had been in their post for up to 25 years.
“… and then in one fell swoop, their entire career is wiped out. They have to worry about their pension. They have to worry, having worked for 25 years and approaching retirement, what are they going to do.
“There are people in this country like that now. You know them in your communities. How can you say that you love the people of this country and you treat them like that?” Friday said.
The opposition leader urged public servants not to fear for their jobs under an NDP administration.
“Do not let them frighten you into thinking that the NDP going take your job. Your job is safe under a new Democratic Party government. It doesn’t matter to me how do you get your job. What matters is how you do your job. And so long as you’re doing your job, you have nothing to fear from anyone.”
He said the ULP would say otherwise.
“And they will tell you that the NDP is your enemy. You have met me. You have talked to me on the streets. I am not that sort of person. I am not the kind of person who will victimise people. My job is to try to make life better for you. And with a New Democratic Party government for public servants, for all and not just the ones who have been victimised, but all the problems that public servants have, we will have a sit down and make sure that we work them out for you,” Friday said.
Saturday’s rally included performances from local acts such as Caspa G, Magikal, and Karbon Jamz, as well as local and regional DJs. The featured acts were Farmer Nappy, of Trinidad, and Jah Vinci, of Jamaica.
If this guy cares so much about affected workers he should have give them the thousands of dollars he paid to bring in the artists.
Leave a comment