To those who would query why Barbadians who are not members of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) have a right to be concerned about alleged indiscretions and mismanagement at the Dalkeith based union, here is one good reason. Members in any registered union in Barbados are allowed to claim as a tax deduction up to a maximum of $240.00. In other words Barbadian taxpayers are subsidizing union business.
Walter Maloney was recently re-elected President of the NUPW for a fourth term and he conceded it was a campaign where there was a fair bit of mud-slinging. At the centre of the controversy is a substantial cellphone bill of $6,000.00 which was racked up by Maloney. He is on record admitting he is willing to pay for those calls which are personal. One wonders why it would have taken the Personnel Department at the NUPW so long to resolve a routine matter. Does it speak to inefficiency or cover up?
The matter becomes interesting with the intervention from Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Trade Union, who stated that President Maloney’s use of a cellphone is (was) not authorized by the NUPW’s National Council. The saga as it continues to play out begs the question, what urgent union matters were on the boil that would provoke a holidaying Maloney to saddle the NUPW with significant cellphone cost incurred over two months. In any event BU understands an acting president was available to attend to union business. Again the question why then would Maloney have to incur significant overseas calls while on holiday on an unauthorized cellphone.
Related Link: NUPW Rules & Standing Orders
In light of the Maloney cellphone controversy one would have thought Maloney’s re-election would have been in jeopardy. Why did the membership show disinterest? Perhaps the membership is not enough attuned to union business? Is there a lethargy which has taken root in the membership ranks that readily accepts mediocrity? Some believe local media – the Nation newspaper in particular – conspired to give Maloney along with a supportive General Secretary a ready platform for him to deliver his message. Why would the Nation newspaper not have taken the opportunity to ask Maloney why the NUPW has not delivered financials in the last two years? Instead on the day of the NUPW election the Nation newspaper gave incumbent Maloney the opportunity to deliver an unchallenged message. Perhaps the time has come to make those cellphone calls by Maloney public. The public has a right to know the truth about this sordid matter. A membership of 20,000 who contribute monthly dues of $26.00 per head is a lot of moolah. Transparency and accountability should be a priority by the leadership of the NUPW reasonable minds would believe.
Given all we have read in the weeks leading up to the election there was the issue of how the General Secretary managed his car procurement. That seems to be another story for which there is merit in follow up. One wonders what is the role of the National Council. One wonders what is the role of the general body? One wonders what is the role of government who subsidizes the NUPW with scarce tax dollars. One wonders the role of the media in Barbados as far as investigative journalism goes. Is there a rule book which should guide the National Council?
It seems the management of too many of our local organizations have allowed them to descend into the depths of mediocrity.