The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) has rubbished newspaper reports that General Secretary Roslyn Smith was being hauled before its highest decision-making body over the use of the union’s credit card.
Following a meeting of the union’s national council this afternoon at the NUPW’s Dalkeith Road, St Michael headquarters, Acting General Secretary Delcia Burke said the reports were a figment of someone’s imagination.
“The National Union of Public Workers, through its national council, wishes to say to the public of Barbados that an instruction was never given to anyone to summon General Secretary sister Roslyn Smith to a meeting to conduct any investigation. The union also wishes to state that her use of the union’s credit card was never any subject of any investigation,” Burke told journalists, explaining that today’s gathering was part of a series of meetings being held to discuss a number of issues of concern to the union.
Earlier this week both Smith and General Treasurer Asokore Beckles had dismissed accusations of unauthorized purchases in the last ten months.
But a source had said that NUPW President Akanni McDowall, who is chairman of the national council, had been instructed to summon Smith in writing to a meeting today. And documents seen by Barbados TODAY had revealed that Smith charged $4,000 at Popular Discounts and Massy Stores supermarkets from September 2017 to March 2018.
Other charges included a $937 bill at Brown Sugar restaurant, $773 for a television at Courts and $1,196.28 in purchases at Duty Free Caribbean.
But Smith told Barbados TODAY the claims against her were nothing short of a malicious attempt to besmirch her name because the purchases were made with the expressed authorization of the union.
“The supermarket purchases were for the hurricane relief effort in Dominica. I couldn’t use the card unless I have permission because I return the card to the union after every purchase. So I am not too bothered by what anyone says. When you have persons that have done things that they should not do they try to implicate people that are above board,” the NUPW general secretary said.
Today, Burke supported Smith’s position, telling journalists the union was aware of the charges and everything was above board as far as the general secretary’s use of the card was concerned.
“The union wishes to say, and this is more important than anything else, that there was never, ever any unauthorized use of the union’s credit card by sister Roslyn Smith. The items that were contained in today’s paper were legitimate transactions which sister Smith was authorized to conduct on behalf of the union. She never used the union’s credit card for her personal use,” she said while taking issue with a Nation newspaper report on the matter.
Smith did not attend today’s meeting because she was on holiday and never summoned, said Burke, who was flanked by council members, with the exception of McDowall, who, though he chaired the gathering, left before it was over.
McDowall later told Barbados TODAY by telephone he had adjourned the meeting because the Smith was absent.
“Today’s meeting was adjourned by me in my capacity as chairman as the general secretary, who was critical to assessment of the issues on the order paper was not present,” he said, without give details.
He did not address Burke’s statement regarding Smith’s use of the credit card, nor did he say why he felt it was critical that Smith be present for the meeting to proceed.
McDowall instead pointed an accusing finger at unnamed members of the union, whom he claimed were trying to put a wedge between his general secretary and him.
“I am concerned with the perception that some members of the national council are bent on creating confusion in the union. This I cannot tolerate when members legitimately have concerns that need to be addressed, like approaching job losses. Substantive member issues must be our focus not internal wrangling,” the NUPW president said.
A seemingly upset McDowall also accused council members of attempting to rehash the settled issue of outstanding monies he owed to the union through the use of the credit card.
“The meeting of the 26 of July 2018 was conclusive and the council’s decision was communicated to its members publicly through a public statement. We need to focus on our members’ mandate, not petty personal agendas,” he stressed.
However, while Burke declined to give details of McDowall’s financial obligations to the union, Barbados TODAY has learnt that it stands at $5,000, and he is to repay $600 per month from his union stipend.