The acting General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Wayne Walrond is counting on divine intervention and the good sense of members to save the 77-year-old organisation from possible implosion.
Speaking on the heels of a rowdy and disruptive National Council meeting on Tuesday to which the police had to be summoned to restore order, Walrond labelled the behaviour of some members as a sad state of affairs that has left him a troubled man.
In recounting what happened during the meeting held at the union’s Dalkeith Road, St Michael headquarters, Walrond said that the council had invited past presidents and general secretaries to share their experiences on the best ways to move forward amidst the continuing divisiveness and rancour within the organisation.
The council was meeting against the backdrop of a petition brought by member Natalie Murray which triggered a special general meeting to create a new post of Secretary General to be held by incumbent president Akanni McDowall.
“They [the elder former leaders] said they cannot sit back and watch the demise of their union given the sordid state of affairs…it needs to be looked at. And therefore they were invited by the council and then lo and behold, we saw this mover of the petition barge in, dropped down beside the president and there was an uproar. Obviously, we sought to maintain order, and it was so disruptive, the police had to be called in,” Walrond told Barbados TODAY.
The acting general secretary said that because the police were not au fait with the rules and procedures of the organisation, they had to act cautiously to determine what needed to be done.
Walrond disclosed that the union is currently working on how best to resume the council meeting to continue the business of its membership and to seek stability and best practices in the organisation.
“We will go through the process. There are rules, we will go through the process and adhere to the rules. You will get more information in due course as to how this matter advances because we still have to continue to collaborate with our internal organs and do our consultations to really determine the best way forward,” he stated.
He admitted that from time to time members would have issues and grievances, but suggested that there must be managed for the betterment of all.
“I ask that God intervenes and save this institution. I ask public workers who have been calling me, to don’t get vex and drop out of the union. If you want to save your union, participate and object to anything that would destabilize this union, object to anything that would cause anarchy, chaos and an affront to good labour management relations,” the NUPW leader declared.
“I have been at this union for over three decades and I have seen behaviour that is unprecedented. Certainly, we understand that in life there would be conflict, you would have different views, people would have their supporters…that is a part of life. But certainly, there can be no excuse for the horrific behaviour that I saw yesterday. If this display is a signal for the way forward, I am troubled,” Walrond stated.
“If it is indicative of the change to advance the organisation, I am concerned,” he added.
The acting general secretary also distanced himself from any notion that he is in any contest for a position within the NUPW, explaining that he is a permanent paid appointed member of staff and does not have to vie for an elected post.
“This union is bigger than Wayne Walrond, Akanni McDowall, Richard Greene, whoever. This union is bigger than any one person. This union belongs to the members…and this institution cannot be dragged through the mud for any personal reason. This institution is 77 years old…proud achievements of the medical plan, fighting for several benefits for public officers, establishment of a public workers’ academy,” Walrond said.
He contended that “this kind of behaviour” is not sustainable and must come to an end.
On the question of the appointment of a new general secretary, he would only say that it is a national council decision and it will make a determination when the time is right. ([email protected])