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PNP moves to reunite NWU

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, February 14, 2014    

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THE People's National Party (PNP) is to fill two vacancies on the general executive council (GEC) of the National Workers Union (NWU) in an effort to end an internal feud which has split the union in recent months.

The decision came out of a meeting of top PNP brass and the NWU leadership on Tuesday evening at the party's Old Hope Road headquarters in St Andrew.

It is seen as an initial step towards healing the wounds created by the aggressive rivalry between NWU President Vincent Morrison and General Secretary Granville Valentine, and estrangement of its white collar affiliate, the Union of Clerical, Administrative and Supervisory Employees (UCASE).

The Jamaica Observer understands that the two vacancies on the union's GEC have been available to the PNP since the inception of the NWU in 1952. It could not be ascertained if they ever have been filled, but sources confirmed that they have been vacant for at least the past decade.

The two additions would push up the total membership of the union's governing body to 34. Asked what influence two PNP representatives could have on the GEC and, eventually the feud within the union, a source said that it would depend on the stature of the two representatives.

"Obviously, if they were to appoint two persons who were not recognised by the other 32 members of the GEC, it would have little effect," the source said, while pointing out that the council is already heavily influenced by Valentine's supporters.

Morrison and Valentine will meet with the PNP team again next Thursday to continue the discussions, at which time it is likely that the party's two representatives on the GEC will be announced.

In the meantime, UCASE is making arrangements to open its new office in Tangerine Place, St Andrew, this month after informing Valentine last week of its decision to separate from the NWU.

Valentine's decision to dismiss Morrison on February 3 — a day after his 65th birthday — was the last straw for the leadership of UCASE and its general secretary, Robert Harris. The union decided to separate from the NWU and remove to the new premises, but has retained Morrison, who is still considered president of the NWU although he has been retired from his paid post as island supervisor.

Morrison said that he has since been blocked from entering the NWU's East Street head office in downtown Kingston. Harris, who currently has a case of wrongful dismissal against the NWU and Valentine, is UCASE's general secretary.

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