PSU 75 and half-alive
Congratulations are in order, as the Public Service Union celebrates 75 years of never ending struggle, wid lickle or no success foh de Basic Rights and Benefits of its members. My limited experience as ah former president is dat de biggest problem in de PSU was, and still is its membership. Back in my time as ah Public Servant, ah group of concerned workers headed by de late George Howard and Bertram Nicholas organized a Coup to get rid of de den Executive. To my surprise at de AGM, Howard nominated me foh President and before ah could decline, Nicholas seconded it, den somebody else closed nominations.
So I was elected un-opposed, un-trained and un-prepared foh de task. Ah immediately moved ah Motion to increase de number of scholarships for membersâ children from one to six; introduce ah medical benefit plan of $ 50.00 as ah start; ah death benefit of $ 750.00. And finally, ah asked foh two things: (1) to increase de monthly subscription from $1.00 to $ 5.00 and (2) Every Public Servant must give ah fair dayâs work foh ah fair dayâs pay. Big round of applause as de 20 plus members present at de AGM voted unanimously foh dat Motion. But ole people say: âMonkey must know way he going put he tail when he order pants.â When we wrote de Accountant General (AG), Fred Providence my former classmate and buddy, informing him of de Motion, dat de AGM had unanimously voted to increase de monthly subscription to $5.00 and dat dis money was to be withdrawn from dey salaries. Fred laughed and told me to âwheel and come again.â He was not touching anyoneâs salary until he received dey signature.
We followed Fredâs instructions, circulated Forms to every member to affix dey signature instructing de AG to withdraw de $5.00 Union Dues from dey salaries. Dat was ah disaster, we managed to get signatures foh fewer dan ah hundred of de thousand plus members. And what made matters worse, soon after being elected, a member died and we were already committed to pay ah $750. 00 Death Benefit. We met no money in de Associationâs name, actually de former Executive had left an Overdrawn Account. We hosted a Big In-de-pen-dance Ball dat climaxed wid ah Mr and Mrs PSU Award. We raised enough money to clear de Overdraft at de Bank and pay our first Death Benefit.
A big hurdle was getting an audience wid Chief Minister Cato. Word got around dat ah couple of de members of de Executive were also members of Yulimo dat was branded Socialist, and foh dat Cato blanked de Union wid utter contempt, we never met wid him.
Ah maintain dat over de years, de NME of de PSA is its membership as well as some opportunists in leadership positions. Politicians past and present, have condoned ah lot ah corruption within de Service, promoting and protecting misfits who are supporters of de Party in Power. Only when Union members donât get what de want dey find de Union.
Bro Boucher, current PSU President in his Anniversary Address listed ah number of past Presidents, of notable omission and inadvertently I believe, was de name Lee Roy Ellis who succeeded me, and under whose administration, de Union bought the Partyâs Headquarters in Mc Kieâs Hill, sadly dat property after 30 years is not ah symbol of inspiration.
De PSU and SVGTU were a tower of strength in 2001. In dey struggle foh better conditions foh de members, dey did an ODD thing and sold-out de Unions, submitting manhood to ah modern day Moses who committed to take dem to de Promised Land. Unions Pie-and-Ade Road Block Rev-all-yuh-shun, dat shook ah tired and weary NDP Go-venom-mint out ah office. De new ULP regime kept its promises whereby every single Executive Member of de ULP and SVUT was rewarded handsomely. Some real Judases.
Today ah looking and listening to de many issues still standing, many promises forgotten, many grievances, some ole, some new, dat are affecting de Unions are piling up. But de power to change all ah dat lies in de hands of de Membership. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.
Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.