Former People’s National Party (PNP) General Secretary Peter Bunting says Lisa Hanna, a presidential candidate in the upcoming election for leadership of the organisation, has no right or authority to block the list of delegates submitted by the National Workers Union (NWU).
Hanna is taking on Mark Golding in the November 7 runoff internal election.
The MP for South East St Ann is challenging the NWU list and is calling for it to be struck out, which would see many of the trade union’s members unable to participate in what is becoming a vituperative and acidic showdown to decide who heads the 82-year-old party.
Lack of understanding?
Bunting, an ally of Golding, vehemently declares Hanna has no understanding of the close relationship between the NWU and the PNP and is acting beyond her bounds.
“If it is Lisa Hanna and her campaign team had identified 5, 10, 15, 20 names and questioned their legitimacy as delegates, in accordance with the NWU’s constitution, I would remain silent,” he began.
“That’s not what they did. What they did was to go to the Registrar General’s Department to try to find out if the NWU had submitted its annual report in accordance with S.16(1) of the Trade Union Act and to say, if they did not, none of the delegates were to participate in the election,” Bunting further contended.
“Not only is this wrong, it has the element of mischief because what you are in essence saying is that the legitimacy of a NWU delegate is contingent upon the union fulfilling its statutory obligations and therefore the implication from that could very well be that if a party has not submitted its annual financial statements, it should not participate in a general election,” said Bunting earlier today.
He stressed that Hanna has offended the labour movement in Jamaica, something both former leader Dr Peter Phillips and former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson recognsed as important if the party is to ensure national electoral victory.
The way Bunting sees it, Hanna’s approach is all wrong and she is looking to exclude a vital ally of the party from having its say in the outcome of the leadership race.
He continued: “If you have a problem with the NWU voters list, and there may very well be concerns about that list, the correct approach would have been to indicate the names you have concerns with and ensure that those are subject to the scrutiny that is required within the NWU and the party’s constitution.
“To go and take the approach that you did, when the party has a report with some specific recommendations, is to disregard the procedures of the party and to overstep your bounds of which you have no legitimacy to interfere in the internal affairs of the NWU.”
He pointed out that the NWU in 1977 established a protocol with the party where it is no longer regarded as an affiliate and is now an associate. This means it has its own independent constitution and therefore only its delegates can regulate its internal affairs.
“This does not apply to groups or affiliates, it only applies to the NWU,” said Bunting.
NWU General Secretary Granville Valentine has made it clear that Hanna, in his opinion, does not understand the NWU’s relationship with the PNP and that he has seen to it that the submitted list is legitimate. He said Hanna is intent on embarrassing the NWU and he is questioning her motives.
“While it is critically important that we solve the problems with the NWU – and there are problems – we need to separate that from trying to kill a fly with a sledge hammer because the effect of the action, however well intended, is tantamount to anti-party behaviour.
“If the party has a report with a series of recommendations which it needs to adopt and implement, you don’t have the right to do that. It shows a lack of understanding of the party/union relationship because you think you can interfere in the internal affairs of an independent organisation,” said Bunting.