“[…] What next Mr Weatherhead?! If we allow trade unionists to perform their full-time duties at their unions and still take up full-time jobs in the executive branch of government or in the executive of the THA, why can’t the chairperson of ANSA/McAl or the Massy Group of Companies do the same thing?!
“I know that Weatherhead supports equal rights, but what an absurdity…”
The following Letter to the Editor on ex-PSA president Clyde Weatherhead’s support for Watson Duke’s stated intention to retain his post as PSA president (albeit unpaid) while serving as THA deputy chief secretary was submitted to Wired868 by Louis W Williams of St Augustine:
Reference is made to an article by Otto Carrington in the T&T Guardian newspaper, on the 10th December, 2021 titled: ‘Weatherhead supports Duke to maintain both jobs’.
In that article, it was reported that Mr Clyde Weatherhead, former PSA president, supported Mr Watson Duke’s bid to hold two full-time jobs, namely, PSA President, and Deputy Chief Secretary of the THA.
In support of his position, Weatherhead listed the names of several persons who were active trade unionists at the same time that they were serving in the legislature, in Trinidad and Tobago. He is very correct as far as that is concerned. However, such service was part-time in the legislature.
None of the persons mentioned were in the executive branch of government, except for Mr Basdeo Panday. While Panday was a minister, and later as prime minister, he did not perform any duties of a trade unionist.
The jobs of parliamentary secretary, minister, and prime minister are full-time jobs in the executive branch of government and therefore, from a practical point of view, it is obvious that one individual cannot find/make time to effectively and efficiently discharge the duties/functions of two full-time jobs—not to mention the myriad of legal issues which might arise such as a conflict of interest.
In such a scenario, both the membership of the union and the citizenry in Tobago will be short-changed. I do not understand how any responsible trade unionist could support such a measure which will impact more severely on poor workers/citizens.
Weatherhead also mentioned that certain persons were on state boards at the same time that they were executive members of trade unions. However, again, membership on such boards is not a full-time affair.
Mr Weatherhead considered the demand for Duke to choose between the job of PSA president, and deputy chief secretary of the PSA, as contrary to Duke’s constitutional rights to participate in the political affairs of society.
What next Weatherhead?! If we allow trade unionists to perform their full-time duties at their unions and still take up full-time jobs in the executive branch of government or in the executive of the THA, why can’t the chairperson of ANSA/McAl or the Massy Group of Companies do the same thing?!
I know that Weatherhead supports equal rights. But what an absurdity!
In democracies, it is accepted practice that we do not only focus on what is legally permissible regarding the conduct of politicians, but we must also focus on what is in the best interest of good governance. The law is usually at least one step behind.
In any event, there are certain conventions/unwritten rules which are not legally enforceable but are critical to the conduct of good government, and are universally accepted.
Not everything regarding the conduct of politicians can be, or ought to be put into a law. The integrity and good judgement of honourable men/women must hold sway. Politicians of impeccable character will not seek to identify loopholes in the law to ‘pull one’ on the citizenry. Political pressure must ensure compliance with internationally acceptable good practices.
The citizenry must ensure that politicians respect them by insisting that their politicians maintain very high standards of personal conduct.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!