Vice President Joyann Inniss appears to be in hot water with her National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) executive, and could possibly face disciplinary action over recent public statements she made to the media.
Barbados TODAY has obtained a copy of a letter written to Inniss by NUPW President Akanni McDowall in which he sought to warn Inniss that her public statements on November 25, which were carried by both Barbados TODAY and the state-run Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, “have [the] potential to erode the public confidence in NUPW”.
Inniss had publicly complained that she and some senior officers had been sidelined by the union’s leadership, who she charged had also violated industrial relations protocols, and in some cases had been simply ignorant of conventional norms.
Clearly at odds with the rest of the leadership over the sick-out at Grantley Adams International Airport and a go-slow at both ports of entry, Inniss had said the union was putting the jobs of its members in jeopardy.
She had also suggested to Barbados TODAY that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart was right when he said recently that the union had attempted to ambush Government by engaging in industrial action before exhausting all other avenues.
“They are using industrial action as a first resort and not sitting at the negotiation table. There are various avenues available,” the senior trade unionist had said.
While not responding to any of the charges levelled by Inniss, McDowall has seemingly taken offence at her attempts to air her grievances in public.
In his letter to her dated November 28, the union president pointed out that it had been standard practice for grievances to be discussed with the union’s executive and national council.
“As such you have not followed the established protocol; therefore this matter will be taken to National Council for discussion,” he said in the carefully worded letter.
There have been reports of hostility between executive members who support the ruling Democratic Labour Party and those who back the Opposition Barbados Labour Party, with Inniss complaining that deliberate attempts were being made to leave certain members of the executive, including herself, out of the critical meetings.
To support her argument, she spoke of a meeting of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union, the Barbados Workers Union, the Barbados Union of Teachers, the Unity Workers’ Union (UWU) and the NUPW to which she was not invited and was later made to feel unwelcome.
However, UWU General Secretary Caswell Franklyn has accused Inniss of playing politics and of spreading untruths.
“The meeting that she is claiming that they didn’t invite her to was not an NUPW meeting. This was a meeting where the leaders of the trade unions got together to discuss what strategy they are going to use to assist the NUPW in this matter,” Franklyn said, emphasizing that only the leaders of the five unions were present at those talks.
“She [Inniss] was not a trade union leader, and plus we wouldn’t have wanted her there because we would have expected the Dems to know what we are doing, so we didn’t invite her,” the outspoken Franklyn charged.