A planned lawsuit against the 138 signatories to a resolution to create a new post of Secretary-General for National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) president Akanni McDowall will not scare the author of the contentious document into withdrawing the motion.
That was the strong message that NUPW member Natalie Murray, who initiated the resolution as part of a petition, sought to convey to Acting General Secretary Wayne Walrond on Tuesday afternoon.
“Mr Walrond, we will not be silenced,” she declared in a no-holds-barred statement sent on Tuesday to Barbados TODAY. “And I want you to know, Mr Walrond, that I am not moved by your desperate attempt to silence the workers in this country.”
Murray was responding to the front page story in Monday’s edition of Barbados TODAY in which Walrond warned that he intended to bring a legal challenge against the signatories to the petition that appear to contain statements of a defamatory nature against him.
“Any defamatory statements made in that petition, I have been advised, all signatories to the petition are liable to be sued for defamation of character of the Acting General Secretary,” Walrond had said. “I have been in discussion with legal counsel on that. I have been advised it is defamatory.”
But Murray described Walrond’s move to sue as distasteful, shameful and desperate.
She made it clear that she and the other supporters of McDowall would attend the special general meeting on Thursday at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (LESC) to vote on the resolution which will result in the proposal for the new post either being defeated or upheld.
“How dare you use the media…to threaten the members of the NUPW with a lawsuit. Your scare tactics will not stop us from turning up on Thursday to demand our right to choose the type of leadership that we think we deserve at the NUPW,” she declared to Barbados TODAY.
“You do not have the right to take away our democratic right as members of the NUPW to say to the leadership of the NUPW that we are not getting the type of representation that we deserve. You are taking away the very principle of the trade union by trying to silence the workers of this country.
“We will not be silenced. I am happy and I am glad that I brought this resolution. Akanni McDowall had to face a resolution in this country. He did not threaten members. He turned up and survived the resolution,” she recalled.
“Mr Walrond, you are not entitled to the post of General Secretary. It is a vacant post. It has been vacant for the past three years. You do not have the right to be the General Secretary of the NUPW,” the public officer added.
Murray suggested that the workers who signed the petition, along with other public officers, needed to attend Thursday’s meeting and signal to Walrond “that you do not get the right to silence the members”. ([email protected])