Workers at the Water and Sewerage Authority’s (WASA) St Joseph headquarters reported for duty in their numbers yesterday, seemingly ignoring a call from National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) and Public Services Association president Watson Duke to stay at home.
Duke recently told WASA workers they should take the day to rest, reflect and reset their minds after a Parliament Sub-Committee report found that political patronage and trade union involvement in corrupt and unethical practices had crippled the authority. Although he admitted a company owned by his wife, Kimberly Duke received contracts from WASA, Duke denied influencing those contracts.
At a press conference on Monday, he pointed fingers at attorney Sharon Rowley, the wife of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Angus Young, the brother of National Security Minister Stuart Young. He questioned whether both parties and the businesses they are affiliated with held contracts with WASA. Prime Minister Rowley and Young dismissed those claims.
Yesterday, Duke did not respond to multiple calls from Guardian Media on the number of employees who heeded his call. A PSA representative at WASA also declined a request for an interview, saying he was busy.
But while Duke has declared war on Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales and the Government for what he has deemed an attack on WASA workers, several of those employees said yesterday they do not support his call.
The employees requested to remain anonymous but one woman said Duke made his call for the workers to stay home without meeting with them.
“We heard about it on the news, he could have at least met with the workers before. Nobody going to take him on now,” she said.
“The way he behaves is like he does not know what is actually going on with the workers.”
Another employee said he did not believe Duke’s call applied to him, as he is daily-paid and not represented by the PSA.
When he was told Duke’s call came from his position as NATUC president, the man said he still would not support it.
“Let us say I lose my job, you think Duke will care? They sitting in their offices and talking for people that they don’t know and don’t care about. I need my job and at the end of the day, I am grateful for it,” he said.
The man said he will do what is necessary to keep his job and he believes ignoring calls to strike falls within that remit.
Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales told Guardian Media yesterday morning the head of department of the Operation department was instructed to provide a roll call to him by midday. Gonzales did not respond to further questions on the number of employees who failed to show up for their duties but issued a press release thanking public servants for reporting for duty as usual yesterday.