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posted 16 Jun 2016, 09:36 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 16 Jun 2016, 09:44 ]
THe National Workers Union (NWU) issued the following statement on 2016/06/16

The National Health Workers Union (NHWU) is under attack from within. In a January statement we reported that since December your union dues have been deducted and not delivered to your union’s headquarters in Barataria, the address you instructed it be sent to on your check off authorisation form. NCRHA and SWRHA managements have sent your dues to another office on the advice of a person purporting to be the General Secretary of the union.

Steps to correct this have been initiated. Letters were sent to the CEO’s of SWRHA and NCRHA and other measures are being undertaken. The Registrar of Trade Unions convened a meeting between Comrade Dave Smith, General Secretary of the NHWU and Mr. Nigel Small. She requested both parties submit copies of all relevant documents leading up to this state of affairs.

Comrade Smith has submitted his documents and is awaiting further intervention by the Registrar. Notwithstanding these efforts YOU the members must take a stand on how your union functions. It is YOUR money which YOU instructed directed to a particular address.

What is undermining the goals of the union is the apathy displayed by the members of the NHWU who seem content to just pay their dues, sit back and not participate in shaping the union.

The first objective of the NHWU is to gain recognised majority union (RMU) status for the monthly paid workers of the respective RHAs. Without RMU status, there can be no negotiated collective agreement. To gain RMU status a continuous, sustained campaign of recruiting workers into the union is absolutely necessary.

The membership at NCRHA, where the clique is based has scarcely grown (our last listing shows forty four members), while the membership of SWRHA grew steadily to over three hundred and fifty. This shows that they are not interested in getting RMU status.

The second objective is building a democratic organisation which would involve members participating in the activities of the union, attending meetings, electing their branch leaderships and shop stewards and utilising the facilities offered by the union to educate themselves as to their rights and duties as workers and union members.

With a properly structured democratically organised Recognised Majority Union, proposals for a collective agreement will come from the workers and will deal clearly with

· hours of work;

· salaries according to classification and not incentive allowances that can be removed at the whim of management;

· clearly spelt out shift allowances, overtime calculations, sick leave provisions, vacation leave that cannot be interfered with;

· negotiated medical (including dental) and savings plans;

· negotiated and not imposed pension plans;

· clearly spelt out disciplinary procedures and not a mishmash of policy manuals, thirty year old memos and provisions that apply to public servants but have nothing to do with RHA workers and no legal standing.

Through the affiliation agreement the National Workers Union (NU) provides human, financial and material resources, technical expertise in terms of organising, industrial relations services (grievance handling; collective bargaining), and training, education, research, printing and publications, communication and media services.

The NWU provides office facilities; secretarial and administrative support; maintains a membership records data base and maintains the union accounts. All of these services are provided to your union the NHWU.

When the NHWU was formed the national executive of the union came from one branch and was elected by five people. Who were the only members at the time. These positions were considered interim until such time as the membership could elect its leadership. Since then what we have seen is no consultation by the clique with the membership but they have changed the union’s logo, head office address and bank account.

They do not handle grievances, make no representation on pensions, and overtime pay; they have not engaged in training programmes and have collaborated with SWRHA’s Human Resource Department to prevent members from having their grievances processed.

They have sabotaged all attempts to hold duly constituted branch meetings so that SWRHA’s membership could organise themselves to elect their branch representatives and shop stewards. They have even foisted a worker who was never elected by the SWRHA branch as a National Executive Officer of the entire union in a non-existent post of Public Relations Officer.

The leader of the clique resigned his post with “immediate effect” by correspondence dated 28th February 2015, yet he continues to pose as leader.

We have made representation and raised issues on staff shortages; salary increases and retroactive pay, held demonstrations in Couva, POS, San Fernando and Point Fortin; dealt with sick leave entitlement on your off-day; gratuity and short-term contract issues; pensions and matters affecting ATNs and Health and Safety problems.

At least twenty four grievances have been taken up with five going to the Ministry of labour for conciliation and one is before the Industrial Court. We have interfaced with the Ministers of Finance and Health about salaries and arrears and have appeared before the Welch committee and submitted a detailed analysis of the health system to that committee.

This foolishness must stop and it is only you the members who can put an end it to this nonsense. You must seize the opportunity to correct this illegal situation. You have to intervene.

Contact your CEO in relation to your dues. Demand to know why your dues are being sent to an address you did not authorise. Instruct payroll to remit your dues to the original address on your check off authorisation form! Do not send or allow your dues to go anywhere you did not authorise.

You must convene branch meetings to discuss your business and organise yourselves to hold properly structured branch and executive elections. Your silence and non-participation facilitates misrepresentation; the non-processing of your grievances and ensures that you will never achieve recognised majority union status.

For the NHWU to move forward, it must do so on the basis of democratic membership participation and truly belong to its members and not to a handful of “leaders”. It is, therefore, vital that you devote some of your valuable time to ensuring that you are part and parcel of the union’s progress.

If you, the dues paying members of SWRHA and NCRHA, do not intervene NOW and DECISIVELY, then the consequences will be paying your hard earned money and getting no representation. If you choose to stop paying dues then the present rut will continue; persons working every day in permanent positions but classified as temporary or contract workers.

Many of you will retire and get $600.00-800.00 per month as pensions and the management will continue to violate your existing terms of employment as they now do. The future is in your hands. ACT NOW!

You can call the NWU at 223-4700 for further information.
Gerry Kangalee,
16 Jun 2016, 09:42