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Dear Editor: Nobody can hold two full-time jobs at once; Duke should choose between PSA and THA

“[…] No matter how intelligent, resourceful, talented, creative or gifted, one individual cannot effectively and efficiently discharge the functions/duties of two full-time jobs.

“[…] The Chief Secretary, in effect, would be demonstrating a stupefying lack of confidence in the other members of his team at the THA if he allows Mr Duke to perform full-time duties at the PSA while serving as deputy chief secretary of the THA…”

The following Letter to the Editor on Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader 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:

Photo: PDP political leader Watson Duke.
(via PDP)

I have noted with alarm the decision by Mr Watson Solomon Duke to continue in the role of president of his trade union, the PSA, while performing the duties of deputy chief secretary of the THA.

That situation is absolutely untenable. Nonetheless, in my discourse, I am not going to address the legal ramifications of such a decision but simply approach it from a practical point of view.

No matter how intelligent, resourceful, talented, creative or gifted, one individual cannot effectively and efficiently discharge the functions/duties of two full-time jobs. In the instant case, this is compounded by the nature of those jobs. 

In this regard, any practitioner in the field of industrial relations can attest to the very long hours and unscheduled demands of any job in that field, not to mention the position of president of a major trade union in T&T. The same is true of the THA. I daresay that the PDP would want to hit the ground running as it deals with the numerous challenges facing Tobagonians, especially the health and economic challenges, in the midst of a Covid-19 pandemic.

It is also, in my view, entirely unnecessary for Duke to be involved in those two activities at the same time.

Photo: PSA president Watson Duke.
(via PSA)

The PSA has an executive and on it there is an incumbent first vice-president who should be competent enough to take control of the reins of power now that Duke has been elevated to the position of deputy chief secretary at the THA. I note that the first vice-president is a woman.

Is it that Duke believes that she is so incompetent that the PSA is better off without her as its president, and he has to rescue the executive from her incompetence—although he has very limited time available to handle union business at the PSA’s headquarters in Trinidad, as he is employed full-time in Tobago at the THA?

Anyone who has worked in the professional/technical areas of operations at the supervisory or top leadership positions in either the public or private sector would know that after they are no longer employed with the relevant firm/agency/state enterprise/ministry, either through retirement or otherwise, once the departure was amicable, they still provide informal mentorship to their successors, occasionally. 

The successor might seek the advice and recommendation of the mentor on a particular matter, or the mentor might have observed a report in the news media and offered unsolicited advice to his successor(s). But this activity is not time-consuming, as the leg work, final decision-making, and responsibility would be a matter for the current office-holder, and not the mentor/predecessor.

Photo: PSA deputy political leader and then THA chief secretary-in-waiting Farley Augustine (front, centre) poses with his team.
PDP political leader Watson Duke is at far right.
(via PDP)

Similarly, the Chief Secretary would in effect be demonstrating a stupefying lack of confidence in the other members of his team at the THA if he allows Duke to perform full-time duties at the PSA while serving as deputy chief secretary of the THA. 

Who really is in charge of the THA—Duke or Farley Chavez Augustine? Duke is not indispensable to the executive of the THA as Augustine has 15 other persons from whom to choose, excluding himself.

That state of affairs tells us all we need to know about the leadership of the PDP/THA and the PSA.

I need say no more!

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