THE President of the St. Lucia Civil Service Association (CSA), Mary Isaac, has been nominated to replace United Workers Party (UWP) Senator, Lenard “Spider” Montoute, who tendered his resignation from that post on December 5.
Isaac’s nomination for the position in the island’s Upper House was announced via a press conference convened last Tuesday afternoon in the Leader of the Opposition’s Office.
News of Isaac’s appointment came as the House of Assembly was wrapping up its debate on the Millennium Heights Medical Complex Bill. Flanked by Party Leader Allen Chastanet, Leader of the Opposition Dr. Gale Rigobert, Castries South-East MP Guy Joseph and outgoing Senator Montoute, Isaac promised to use the new role as a platform to intensify the importance of workers’ rights. She said the nomination took her by surprise, adding that serving in the Senate gives a much louder and important voice to the workers’ cause.
“As we know, without the workers the machinery of government will not function effectively. So I wish to say here today that I promise that I will carry this position with honesty, with dignity, with integrity and, most of all, with vigour and valour to the best of my ability,” Isaac said.
In responding to whether she was concerned how critics would view her latest appointment – which first needs to receive the blessings of the Governor-General – Isaac said that after attending several union meetings, she became convinced that the union needed to get its voice heard at the highest levels in the land. She also cited precedents in the region which, she said, she and her critics should be guided by.
“The largest trade union in Trinidad right now is headed by James Lambert (who’s) a Senator in the current government of Trinidad and Tobago,” Isaac explained. “So there is precedent. And he’s a very staunch trade union leader. We also have precedence in David Massiah in Antigua as well as Chester Humphrey from Grenada. These are all senators that sit with us at all our meetings throughout the Caribbean.
“We’ve also had Theresa Romulus from CSA who was a Saint Lucia Labour Party Senator. So it is not something new but it is something that allows the trade union to have a bigger voice and to make a more meaningful contribution to trade unionism in any country.”
Montoute, who was appointed an UWP Senator on December 18, 2011, said one motive spurred his decision to quit the Senate: giving someone else the chance to gain much-needed experience to “get their feet wet” for the party’s upcoming candidate selection process. He also expressed confidence in the person tipped to succeed him in the Senate. No call for him to resign the post was made by the party, he said, referring to statements made since his resignation as false.
“I want to state categorically that is absolutely not the case. My resignation was resignation from the Senate. I remain a loyal and committed member of this party and have every intention not just to continue to contribute but to intensify my involvement and service to this party,” Montoute said Tuesday.
Leader of the Opposition, Dr.Rigobert, said Isaac “comes highly-recommended among several party supporters and members” and that the party followed due process in the nomination. She also thanked Montoute for the “sterling support he has given to this party, both in its leadership and its representation in the Upper House”, adding that she wished him “the very best as he hits the ground and begins the process of bringing home the Gros Islet seat” for the party.
Currently, the CSA is at loggerheads with the government regarding salary negotiations for its members. Isaac’s critics have long accused her of “being in bed” with the opposition UWP and stalling the negotiations process for personal reasons. While Isaac has dismissed those claims on several occasions, her new appointment will undoubtedly open the door to a new set of criticisms. Nevertheless, she believes that her new role enhances her workers’ cause and does not believe any conflict of interest relating to her new pending appointment exists.
Asked whether a UWP candidacy can be expected of her soon, Isaac said: “Anything is possible. I will not say yes and I will not say no. So we have to wait and see what the future brings.”
If appointed, Isaac will join fellow UWP senators Andy Daniel and Ezechiel Joseph in the Senate.