Public Service Union members boot out Executive committee
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September 13, 2013

Public Service Union members boot out Executive committee

The executive committee of the Public Service Union (PSU) was on Tuesday booted out of office, a move President Cools Vanloo says was unconstitutional.{{more}}

According to a press release issued by the PSU on Wednesday, the trade union’s membership met at the Peace Memorial Hall on Tuesday, September 10, in a special meeting, to discuss matters relating to the functioning of the seven-person executive committee and to chart a way forward for the union.

The meeting, chaired initially by Vanloo, had some very “heated debates,” with some accusations being levelled against the president and other executive members, the release stated.

According to the release, two motions were put before the floor: one for the removal of the entire executive and a counter motion for the removal of the general secretary Simeon Bacchus and treasurer Jillian Primus.

The executive comprised Cools Vanloo – President; Leroy James – 1st Vice President; Kevin Alexander – 2nd Vice President; Simeon Bacchus -General Secretary; Desiree Thomas – Assistant Secretary; Jillian Primus – Treasurer and James Ollivierre – Grievance Officer.

A vote was held for the counter motion, which was defeated and, according to the press release, the president then declared the meeting adjourned. That motion was, however, not seconded, and Vanloo and some other members of the union walked out of the meeting, the release said.

The PSU release stated that general secretary Simeon Bacchus was asked to chair the meeting after Vanloo’s departure and the motion for the removal of the executive was voted on, with 32 of the 35 members present voting in favour of the removal of the executive; the remaining three members did not vote.

An interim committee was elected and given the mandate to run the affairs of the union, and to hold a general meeting within one month to elect a new executive, whose term of office will include the period up to March 2014 and the two- year term 2014 to 2016.

The interim committee comprises Elroy Boucher – chairperson; Elizabeth Williams, Joel Poyer, Bernard Morgan and Aubrey Burgin.

When contacted, Vanloo, who had been serving his third term as the PSU’s president, said that the union’s constitution does not make provisions for an interim committee or for the removal of the executive by any motion.

He contended that the membership had altered the constitution, adding that there was a procedure set out in the constitution, with respect to alteration.

According to Vanloo, the registrar of trade unions needed to be notified of any changes to the executive and he explained that under the constitution, the general secretary did not have the authority to chair a meeting, saying that the constitution was quite clear on this and that the first vice president was responsible for chairing a meeting in the absence of the president.

The former president explained why he ended the meeting.

“The meeting was adjourned by me, because the meeting was in disarray,” he explained to SEARCHLIGHT.

He said that when the vote was about to be taken on one of the motions, a number of members of the union stood up and started shouting at one another.

“I couldn’t have gotten the meeting back to order, so I simply adjourned the meeting.”

Vanloo further said that a motion for the removal of the executive was not listed on the agenda.

“In a special meeting, you have to come with it specifically, and it must be stated in the notice that this is what you are going to do – to ask for the removal of the executive,” the former president said.

He added that a resolution also needed to be prepared, because the constitution clearly indicates that the executive must serve until the next election.

“You can’t come and interrupt it and say you are removing an executive; there is no provision in the constitution for an interim committee to be chaired by anybody,” Vanloo said.

He charged that some of the persons included on the interim committee had previously offered themselves for positions on the executive, but had been rejected by the general membership.

“How come they could now impose themselves on the general body?” he questioned.

According to Vanloo, the executive body was hijacked, because there is nowhere in the constitution for a motion for the removal of the executive body by the membership.

“There is one section which says that they can change the rules – if you want to change the executive, then you have to change the rules,” Vanloo explained.

He further explained that once there is a partial or entire change, the trade union has to send the information regarding the changes to the registrar, who will then issue a certificate acknowledging that the rule has been amended or changed.

Vanloo further said that some of the issues raised against him as president were raised before, and the issue was dealt with. He said subsequent to that, he was re-elected as the union’s president, which invalidated the initial position.

“So, I don’t know what it’s all about.”

Vanloo contended that it is being assumed that the membership is the supreme body of the organization, but the membership is not above the constitution, he said, adding that the matter may have to be settled in court.

But Aubrey Burgin, a member of the interim committee, said that everything that took place at Tuesday’s meeting was done legally.

“We had a quorum, when Mr Vanloo slammed his hand on the podium, this meeting is adjourned and he walked out with a group…the majority of the persons remained in the meeting; we had a vote on that motion that the entire executive resign, because they were not functioning properly, and it was not in the best interest of the union,” Burgin told SEARCHLIGHT.

He said it had appeared to not just him, but to a number of the PSU members that Vanloo did not understand organizations and how they were run.

According to Burgin, he was the one who moved the motion for the executive to be removed, because he said that there was no cohesiveness among the members of the executive and that the union could not function efficiently with Vanloo as president.

“We had the counter motion, but he (Vanloo) kept referring to constitution,” he said.

Burgin said Tuesday’s meeting was held to deal with the operations of the executive. He said once there was a quorum, that that quorum can make decisions, regardless of what takes place. (DD)