It is official. After close to five decades, the tenure of Roslyn Smith as General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), has come to an end.
In a press release this afternoon, the NUPW confirmed reports carried last month by Barbados TODAY, that the union had declined Smith’s request for a contract extension.
“After careful consideration, the National Council decided that there will be no further extensions of Sister Smith’s contract. The National Council, Executive and Secretariat wish Sister Smith a full recovery and God’s speed during her retirement,” the statement explained.
Smith is still recovering from an undisclosed illness and has been receiving treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) since last December. She had submitted a request for a leave extension in a letter dated March 15. At the time union president Akanni McDowall said a decision on the matter should be deferred to the union’s incoming executive committee and national council.
However, in the NUPW’s statement this afternoon, it was noted that Smith was given a previous extension and would now be retiring.
“The NUPW announces that Roslyn Smith has retired after 47 years of service. Sister Smith’s retirement would have commenced on October 1, 2018. National Council decided to grant an extension of her employment to March 31, 2019,” the union stated.
Last month a source told Barbados TODAY that while a new national council was yet to be formed, the executive of the NUPW took the decision not to renew the contract.
“The new council is being formed now but the executive would have made the decision as it pertains to Roslyn [Smith]. The executive made the decision that the contract not be extended,” the source explained.
Barbados TODAY contacted NUPW president Akanni McDowall to get further clarification on the rationale behind his organisation’s decision, but he declined to comment.
In recent months, Smith’s relationship with the NUPW president has been volatile. In the days leading up to NUPW’s elections last April, news broke that Smith and McDowall were heading to court to settle a lawsuit stemming from a memo dated August 28, 2018, in which McDowall made certain statements to the NUPW’s National Council referencing Smith’s use of the union’s credit card.
Smith had accused McDowall of making several “extremely serious, sensational and irrefutably false statements against her”, which had the potential to cause her to lose her job.
Last week, former trade unionist, Robert Bobby Morris, took the NUPW to task for its handling of Smith’s matter.
According to Morris, a former deputy general secretary of the BWU, the recent decision by the NUPW executive not to renew the contract of General Secretary Roslyn Smith who was hospitalised since last December, is not in keeping with the image of an organisation with strong leadership.
“I am concerned that the general secretary is on her sick bed and we don’t know if she has a job or not. All women would sympathise with her, regardless of what their politics are. For a woman to be on her sick bed and is being threatened with dismissal from a workers’ organisation cannot look good. I don’t care what anybody tell me. It is a signal of where we are,” said Morris.
Barbados TODAY made several attempts to reach Smith but was unsuccessful.