With her announced retirement now a contested matter at the level of the Labour Department, former General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers Roslyn Smith, is suggesting that those who seek to ensnare her may very well find themselves caught in their own traps.
Last month the union which she served for 47 years officially announced her retirement and the 65-year-old Smith is now claiming unfair dismissal and wants close to half of a million dollars in compensation.
This morning the former NUPW General Secretary made it clear that she would not be commenting on the specifics of this matter, which is pending before the labour department. However, she told Barbados TODAY that she was “disappointed” with the union’s handling of her case.
“I don’t know if I am out, but the truth will come out. Those who purport to act in that manner will see for themselves. I call it a Mordecai and Haman event, that’s all I call it,” she said in reference to the biblical account of Haman, who was hanged on the very gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.
Smith also suggested that there was much more to the story than what has made it into the public domain and promised that all will be revealed in due course.
She added, “I would just say that I am really disappointed in the way that things unfolded but there is always recourse for things of this nature, so I am not worried about it.”
However, the longstanding trade unionist told Barbados TODAY that regardless of the outcome of the dispute, her contribution to labour advocacy was far from over.
Smith, whose contract was not renewed by the executive of the NUPW last May following a near six-month stay in hospital where she was receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness, said that she is doing much better and intends to continue her near half of a century fight for workers’ rights.
“I have never stopped fighting for workers because even when I was in the hospital, I was still dealing with matters. I am home recuperating and as things come about, I will address them but in the meantime I am feeling good and I am putting my home life into perspective. I still follow issues and see how things are going and determine what would need intervention and I would channel it through the appropriate persons,” said Smith.
In the meantime, the veteran trade unionist said she was proud of her record while at the helm of the country’s largest public-sector trade union. She noted that in recent times the NUPW has been seeing the fruits of its years of agitating for change on a number of key issues.
“I am happy and thankful about the customs outcome and the issue of paternity leave which has been brought to being because those are two main issues that we have been pushing for the last 20 years and nobody sought to deal with them. So, I am really happy that the Prime Minister has dealt with these things because we were relentless up to the time the government changed. So the union has a lot of things in its record to be proud of. There are still more things to be done with respect to the health sector,” she said.
Smith also took the opportunity to thank the membership of the NUPW for its support and well-wishes during her illness.
“To my members I say thank you. All those who sent me flowers and gift baskets and words of encouragement, I also say thank you. It really meant a lot and I am eternally grateful for the kind gestures and support,” she said.