by Arthur M A Pierre
2nd Vice President, Grenada Public Workers Union (GPWU)
Members, workers, colleagues, I bring you warm and fraternal greetings. I am grateful for the trust and confidence that you placed in me, and the opportunity to have served in the leadership capacity as your 2nd VP for the past 2 years. As we approach another election to select a new executive, I humbly request that you consider the state of your Union.
Brothers and sisters, at this time, foremost in my mind and I believe in all of our minds, is the state of our beloved union, the Grenada Public Workers Union, an institution with a proud legacy of strength, dignity and stalwart representation of workers rights. Today, however, there is no doubt that we are at a tipping point, a crucial juncture in the history of our union and as we deliberate, we must consider that in its present state of our union and it’s survival and it’s future trajectory.
Friends, come Tuesday, 16 March 2021, whomsoever we choose to lead us as president will determine the very survival of our Union. It is up to all of us whether we continue on our present path, or make a deliberate and strategic choice for the good of the PWU.
We all are aware that if there were ever a time when our Union needed strong, mature, intelligent, reasoned, fearless and principled leadership, it is now. Over the last 10 years or more, we have seen the targeted erosion of our ranks, union-busting activities, and the ruthless disregard of the employer and the diminishing of the might of our beloved union.
We cannot afford to practice a brand of trade unionism where noise does not translate into benefits for workers. Members, we deserve more than noise, old talk, and empty promises. We must demand a brand of leadership that has substance: is strategic and visionary; is based on inclusive representation that is rooted in the fervent desire to bring tangible benefits to workers. We can only do so by choosing the leadership that we want and deserve.
Since the advent of Covid-19, most of us serve on the very frontlines, in a work environment that is made more fraught with health and safety challenges. These challenges have been made even more difficult by an employer who consistently appears to be uncaring and indifferent to the plight of workers.
Woefully, even in the midst of a pandemic, we still have to engage in battle with the employer, for our legally bargained 4% increases which are now past due. We have been denied our pension and gratuity rights and workers are retiring into poverty after working their fingers to the bone, in service to this country. The plight of our contract workers is heartbreaking. Our colleagues are grossly underpaid and labour with no job security and little dignity. Daily their rights are trampled upon, yet their cries have been largely ignored even by the union.
The abuse and misuse of workers cannot be allowed to continue. We must stand firm to change this dynamic. We must aggressively engage with government to secure lasting benefits for our workers. We must swiftly regain the ground that has been quietly eroded before we can no longer stem the tide.
Members, you must choose a presidency that would be grounded in the principles of Service Leadership, rooted in honesty, sound judgement, bold and proactive leadership, unmoved by any personal agendas or self-aggrandizement. It must not be a one-man show, but leadership that embraces team spirit, where the collective strengths and talents of the entire executive council and the vast expertise of our membership are utilised for the good of all of us. We must strengthen and rebuild the arms of our union: Shop Stewards, Youth, Men and Women and implement District Boards.
Workers, in your deliberations and wise judgement, we must consider the state of our union. We cannot continue on the present path. We must make a choice to rebuild, and rebrand our union to the glorious and powerful institution that it once was. In unity, success is assured. Our Union makes us strong. By God’s grace and His almighty hand, all things are possible. May God bless us all.
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