McDowall going after NUPW top post again
Akanni McDowall is seeking a third term at the helm of Barbados’ largest public sector union even amidst recent publicized clashes with his administration and widespread criticism for his handling of ongoing Government retrenchment of public workers.
In fact, the head of the National Union of Public Workers, (NUPW) said it would be a irresponsible and a dereliction of duty if he did not throw his hat into the ring for the April 3 elections.
“I would think that it would be irresponsible of me to leave the presidency or to leave the union during a retrenchment programme. I would really think so. I would want to see my members through this phase and through this programme before I give up on the leadership position. I really would not feel good leaving just like that because I stand by public servants in their time of need,” said McDowall, who is confident that he still enjoys majority support of the membership.
McDowall told Barbados TODAY it is important he stands by his constituents who are still navigating an austerity programme.
In June 2016, McDowall convincingly overcame a no-confidence motion 168-45 during his first tenure as president. A year later he easily brushed aside a challenge for the presidency from immigration officer, Roy Greenidge.
But with critics such as Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn, describing the NUPW under McDowall’s stewardship as “political prostitutes”, it is left for the membership to decide who will lead them.
Senator Franklyn had also accused the union of playing politics when shortly after the Barbados Labour Party’s emphatic win in the May 24 polls (BLP), the union reached agreement on salary increases for public servants at 4.5 per cent after insisting on 23 per cent from the previous administration.
“To come down from 23 per cent to 4.5 per cent is like dropping off a cliff,” Franklyn said then. “Everybody knew that the [previous] Government was mismanaging the economy and that the whole country was going to hell in a handcart, yet they [NUPW] insisted on 23 per cent. I can’t say if this Government is being reasonable, but you can’t just settle in one meeting after elections. It smells like a bag of rotten shrimp,” the outspoken senator said at the time.
However, McDowall told Barbados TODAY that he is fully aware of the criticisms of his leadership and that he is prepared to defend his record, even though he believes that “it speaks for itself”. He also revealed that he has heard rumors regarding persons wishing to challenge him but so far no one has officially indicated their intention to do so.
“I have heard people say that I am in bed with the current Government, but I would encourage them to bring the proof of this. My record shows that even after the Government was changed, I have continued to fight for the workers. I would like people to judge me based on what I have been able to achieve rather than accusing me whimsically of being associated with one administration or another.
“I have not shown preference for one administration over another in my capacity as president of the NUPW, and if people have proof to the contrary, then I suggest they bring it,” saidMcDowall, who pointed to the recent relocation of the Immigration Department as one example of the NUPW’s continued push for workers’ rights in recent months.