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PSA in state of crisis
Posted: Monday, May 10, 2010

By Jennifer Baptiste Primus
Monday, May 10 2010

My attention was drawn to a paid full page advertisement from the PSA Executive Committee on May 6, 2010, in which several inaccurate statements were made. As the former president of this august Association for 12 years, I am well placed to comment on the Credit Card, the authority of the General Council, and the purchase of a vehicle for the Office of President.

1. The Credit Card was introduced under my presidency for the specific purpose of Union Activities only, it was never intended for use of "Personal Expenses" of the president as stated by the executive. It is ludicrous to even consider that the PSA or I dare say any other union would take members' hard earned dues to pay for "personal spending" of a president especially when the president is paid a handsome salary as well as a Duty Allowance each month. Personal spending must be allocated to the president's Personal Credit Card (PCC).

Moreover how does the president explain cash withdrawals on the Credit Card in the sum of $16,000 and purchases in excess of $26,000 from two hardware stores; purchase from a bakery in the sum of a mere $35.00; or worse payment to a hotel?

2. With respect to General Council Members being called "Dissidents" this is a rather unfortunate and ill-advised statement. The General Council of the PSA is the second highest ruling body in the Association, it is also the Finance Committee having the power to administer the finances of the Association, ie all spending in the Association.

It is a very powerful body as it also has the power to discipline the president, executive officers, ordinary members and employees.

All decisions of the General Council must be carried out by the president.

Whatever feelings he may have on this matter must give way to the will of the General Council. As such when the General Council was summoned to a meeting last week and took the decision not to accept the purported text resignation of Oral Saunders, General Secretary, the Council was exercising its prerogative and authority as prescribed in the Constitution, and therefore the president Watson Duke must adhere to such a decision. To do otherwise is to violate the said Constitution. Of note here is the fact that before a meeting of the Council is brought to an end the Chairman of the meeting must obtain the agreement of the members present to close the meeting.

If such an agreement is not obtained the Chairman is obligated to continue the meeting. The question is whether this procedure was followed by Watson Duke?

My information is that this was not done and as a consequence the General Council quite rightfully activated Article 26 of the Constitution and continued the meeting following the walkout by the president and several of his executive colleagues. All decisions emanating from such a meeting are therefore constitutionally correct.

3. With respect to the purchase of a vehicle for the office of President, in accordance with the Asset Policy of the Association such a vehicle must be replaced every four years not every five years as stated by the executive. As a consequence in 2008 the General Council agreed to the purchase of a new vehicle and for a request to be made of the Finance Minister for another waiver of the Motor Vehicle Tax. The request was turned down by the Minister. As such the plan to purchase a new vehicle was abandoned as the cost was in excess of $400,000. The Council agreed to have the said PBS 29 refurbished instead and that was done at a cost of just under $20,000. My understanding is that instead a new BMW at a cost of $600,000 was purchased The inference that as the former president I was able to access such a waiver and the current president could not because of political factors is totally mischievous. Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. It was not I who politicized the PSA by requesting temporary Senatorship from a certain Political Party.

In conclusion the crisis in the PSA could have been avoided if the president had shown respect for the General Council by accepting its decision. Unfortunately this crisis would have to be settled legally and also by the membership enforcing and protecting the Constitution of the Association to stop the bizarre occurrences and violations taking place. The executive needs to be extremely careful especially those officers who served on the General Council and who ought to know better.

Jennifer Baptiste-Primus

Recently retired

former PSA president

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