As far as Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo is concerned, there was no foul play involved in the removal of President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Akanni McDowall from his acting position.
In fact, Dr Byer-Suckoo said as far as she was aware McDowall’s time in the acting position had simply come to an end.
Last Tuesday, Barbados TODAY reported that the outspoken labour union official, who has been acting as a health promotion officer within the Ministry of Health for the past two years, would be returning to his substantive post as an Environmental Health Assistant.
In an immediate reaction, the NUPW said the “sudden reversion of its president” was nothing short of victimization, while pointing out that he had recently been vocal in his opposition to what the union sees as Government’s efforts to privatize the state-run Sanitation Service Authority.
“He has also been forthright in his representation of customs officers, GAIA Inc and BIDC employees among others,” the statement added.
However, when asked by Barbados TODAY to share her views on the development on the sidelines of the 10th Annual Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC) Occupational Health and Safety seminar at the Hilton Barbados Resort Monday morning, Dr Byer-Suckoo said she did not suspect any foul play.
“I do know that Mr McDowall was acting and the acting was for a defined period. That is as much as I know and that period has come to an end. He was acting for a defined period. You would normally get your paper saying you are acting from here to here, and as far as I know that is what was the case with Mr McDowall,” Dr Byer-Suckoo said.
“I don’t know anymore than that so I am not at liberty to say anymore. And I believe the right thing is being done in that he has sought a meeting with the Chief Personnel Officer, who once she has the details will meet with him, but as far as personal involvement or any mischief afoot, it doesn’t sound that way to me,” she stressed.
Dr Byer-Suckoo said she was also aware that the Chief Personnel Officer was doing her “research” and would honour the NUPW’s request for a meeting to discuss the situation.