With just two days to go before members of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) choose their next president, the mudslinging has intensified between incumbent Akanni McDowall and his challenger, Deputy General-Treasurer Roy Greenidge.
In a press conference this afternoon at the NUPW headquarters, Greenidge attacked McDowall’s legacy, claiming his opponent was attempting to take credit for issues that had been resolved before his presidency, or even those yet to be concluded.
McDowall had come under fire last week from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), which dismissed the union president’s claim that, “it was only after intervention from the NUPW that orderlies were allowed to work as emergency medical technicians”.
Today, Greenidge raised the issue, charging he was not surprised as McDowall had made a habit of misrepresenting the facts.
“The issue with respect to the QEH with the orderlies and the EMTs, I am only aware about what I have read in the paper, but I am not surprised. Only at conference last week, claims of achievements have been corrected by members –claims that BIDC [Barbados Investment and Development Corporation] had been reinstated and that the status of tutors at the Barbados Community College had been completed. In both cases members corrected those claims,” Greenidge charged.
In addition, he contended that under McDowall’s leadership, the NUPW had moved away from union protocol by hiring an attorney, for an undisclosed sum, to represent the current president in his ongoing dispute with the Personnel Administration Division (PAD).
He said that while it was not unusual for the union to assist members with legal costs, it was customary to engage the attorney on retainer by the NUPW.
“The union has at time assisted members with legal fees, but on those occasions they have come through request from members. The union retains an attorney and the practice is that you pass that matter to that attorney. Recently I have seen a departure from this, but I don’t know about the payment arrangement,” he argued.
However, in a swift response, McDowall accused Greenidge of being “grossly disingenuous” as he was on the NUPW council which unanimously approved the choice of attorney.
He also revealed that other members were being represented in court by attorneys outside of the retained legal counsel.
“The National Council discussed this matter and a motion was moved in relation to the matter and the National Council is fully aware of what is happening in relation to my matter. My goodly brother was part of the National Council so he should also be aware. Our National Council can choose whoever they want to represent members. As a matter of fact we have about two or three attorneys in addition to the union’s attorney that we use. We discussed this matter at council and as far as I am aware there were no dissenting voices from any members, including Mr Greenidge,” McDowall argued.
In addition, the NUPW president told Barbados TODAY that Greenidge’s smear campaign reeked of desperation, “as there was no claim that the BIDC workers were reinstated”.
“It was a typographical error made by the secretariat and at the last general conference we would have spotted the mistake and agreed that it should be corrected. To say that I, Akanni McDowall, said something, I don’t know what he is talking about.
“The BIDC matter is still before the court and I attend all of the court functions, every time the matter is heard I am there to see what is going on. So I know full well that the BIDC matter has not been resolved yet. It seems that my challenger is trying to pick at things to try to convince people that I am lying, but I don’t have to lie about these things,” he stressed
McDowall also provided Barbados TODAY with copies of letters dated May 26, 2015, addressed to the Chief Executive Officer of the QEH, in which the NUPW made representation on behalf of the orderlies.
The union leader also repeated an accusation that the Freundel Stuart administration was trying to influence the internal election, claiming that the QEH action was were the latest example.
“Again, I ask the question . . . why is it NUPW so important at this point that the Government regains control of the union? The NUPW executive demands that Government desist from attempting to influence the outcome of the election,” he stressed.