THE two rival factions in the Civil Service Association (CSA) clashed on Labour Day at their Annual General Meeting at the Sans Soucis headquarters forcing the intervention of police officers and averting the possibility of a violent outcome.
The scene at last Friday’s meeting followed a pattern of recent meetings of the organization with two notable exceptions, the intervention of police officers to escort a member out of the hall and the hooliganism displayed by some members who raided the packaged food and drinks that were locked in a room for distribution after the meeting.
CSA President Mary Isaac who has been at the receiving end of scathing criticism from members of a faction of the organization for accepting a Senatorial appointment from the Opposition United Workers Party has remained unruffled by the mayhem that has now become a feature of CSA meetings. She has fought off attempts to force her out of office and continues to serve as President and acting General Secretary.
Isaac has confirmed that she has applied to fill the vacant post of General Secretary as has vice president Wilfred Pierre. The two yesterday told The VOICE that they had not resigned from their respective positions within the CSA despite reports to the contrary that Isaac, at least, had resigned as president.
“The position to fill the vacant post of general secretary was advertised internally. Two persons responded to date, myself and Mr. Pierre,” Isaac said.
The general secretary’s position became vacant after the contract of the previous holder, David Demacque expired in March of this year.
Isaac has survived calls for her resignation, a petition by some members asking her to step down as president on grounds of conflict of interest since becoming a member of the UWP. Her opponents in the CSA claim that she breached the association’s constitution by not holding quarterly meetings as mandated by the constitution.
Isaac rose to national prominence as a result of her refusal to accept a government plan to cut public sector workers wages and salaries by five percent despite government’s indication that this was needed to help balance the country’s deficit.
That five percent issue was contained in last year’s budget when the government called on the unions to act quickly to assist in closing the country’s deficit gap by agreeing to the cut in pay.
The CSA is the only trade union that has not agreed to have their members pay cut.
It is not known exactly where this particular issue is right now. This year’s estimates of expenditure were last week presented in parliament with no word about the five percent pay cut.
Whether this issue will be raised in parliament next week is anyone’s guess as parliamentarians prepare to meet yet again to debate the budget’s policy statement to be presented by Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony.
However this particular issue was not on the minds of CSA members last Friday at their Annual General Meeting which turned unruly from the beginning, with the acting president, Pierre being jeered while trying to invoke God’s presence in the hall through prayer.
Order disappeared from the meeting from there on as persons opposed to Isaac, Pierre and others at the head table took over the microphone to establish certain protocols which they say were necessary and would prove that Isaac did not have the authority to be in her position.
One member of the faction opposing Isaac called for the suspension of Section C of the Standing Order which restricts a member to a certain amount of time at the microphone. This was put to the floor for a vote. Members rejected it but the noise and the ruckus continued.
A resolution was moved to remove a particular member from the proceedings. The resolution was carried but removing the member proved an entirely different story, this became possible almost three hours after the resolution was made, and had to be enforced with the help of police officers who were called by the executive to come restore order.
Order was restored late in the afternoon but not before some disgruntled members decided to take matters into their own hands by jumping over the counter in the hall where the meeting was being held, to gain access to the room where the food and drinks were stored, and walked out with the packaged foodstuff and drinks.
Other rowdy members who were behind the bar started passing out the packaged food and drinks to those who were not part of the wayward act. Within a short space of time the food and drinks that were there for partaking by all were whisked away leaving several members hungry and thirsty.