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Francois defends protest

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As the saga between the St. Vincent Electricity Services (VINLEC) and persons protesting the high cost of electricity continues, organizers of the weekly marches claim that there is nothing personal between them and the electricity service provider.{{more}}

Last Thursday, protesters led by Junior Bacchus and Bert Francois headed to the Grenadine Island of Bequia where they were joined by supporters in a walk starting at the Revenue Office in Port Elizabeth, going to Hamilton before returning to the port, where a rally was held under the almond trees.

That same day, VINLEC issued a press release expressing its concern about the way Bacchus and Francois have been conducting their protests.

The release questioned the motive of the men who have been at the forefront of the picketing of the company’s Headquarters since September this year.

“They have led protesters onto the company’s property wherein they have disrupted the business of the company by engaging in activities directed at preventing customers from conducting normal business with the organization.”

“…The actions of messrs Francois and Bacchus have also led to protesters becoming involved in activities aimed at destroying the company’s property as well as being disrespectful to employees on duty.”

The release went on to state that “Francois and Bacchus will be held responsible for any damage to its property caused by the protesters.”

According to the release, the leaders of the protesters were misleading consumers with regard to the highly contested issue of fuel surcharge.

In response to the release, Francois, speaking to the gathering in Bequia, said that any personal grievances that he has with the management at VINLEC is the same as any other person, and that his motives should not be questioned.

“Yes, I have a personal reason for organizing the protest. It’s because I can’t afford to pay; that’s my personal reason. It’s the same reason each and everyone of us has.”

“We are simply saying: “We are hurting. We can’t afford to pay. What can you do for us? Can you sit down and let us look at the problem?’”

“But they are not prepared to do that. They are arrogant. They shut down the building when we come and all they say is ‘We can’t do nothing.’”

“How can we damage VINLEC? VINLEC is damaging us!”

Francois went on to say that the struggle will continue until a solution is reached with the Board of VINLEC.

Meanwhile, as planned, the protesters gathered at Monday’s Independence Parade outside the Victoria Park in a silent protest.

Organizer Junior Bacchus indicated that a public meeting is being planned, and issues concerning the cost of electricity will be discussed. (JJ)