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UCASE moves into new office tomorrow

Sunday, March 02, 2014    

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FORMER National Workers' Union (NWU) affiliate, the Union of Clerical, Administrative and Supervisory Employees (UCASE) will officially open its new offices in Tangerine Place, Kingston, tomorrow.

The move seems to complete the union's severing of its ties with the NWU, although its leadership will still be dominated by former NWU/UCASE officials, including president Vincent Morrison, who recently lost his position as island supervisor of the NWU after being sent on retirement; former general secretary, Senator Navel Clarke, who is returning from retirement as general secretary of both the NWU and UCASE to become a consultant with the union; and UCASE general secretary, Robert Harris, who succeeded Clarke.

According to Harris, Morrison and Clarke possess the experience and skills which UCASE will need to confirm its legitimacy, after years of operating under the umbrella of the NWU.

"These are two very experienced and respected trade unionists who will bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the union," Harris said.

Morrison, however, will have to decide very soon whether he will remain as president of the NWU, a position to which he was elected at the union's last congress in 2006. The Jamaica Observer understands that the UCASE executive committee has given him an ultimatum to decide which of the two unions he wants to remain as president of, but will not accept him as president of both.

Morrison, a 45-year veteran of the trade union movement, was unceremoniously sent on leave and blocked from entering the NWU's East Street office, since a day after his 65th birthday on February 2.

Clarke, a government senator filling a post that the ruling People's National Party (PNP) has always left open to the NWU, was sent on retirement approximately two years prior to Morrison.

Harris, who succeeded Clarke as UCASE general secretary, was fired from the union in 2013, and currently has a case of wrongful dismissal against the union in the Supreme Court.

UCASE, which was founded in the 1970s as the white collar affiliate of the NWU, has over 2,000 members at companies like the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Company Limited, the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) as well as in the bauxite/alumina sector.

The break-off from the NWU is the latest casualty of an internal leadership struggle between Morrison and current NWU general secretary, Granville Valentine, which has resulted in most supporters of Morrison being retired or leaving the union.

Morrison told the Sunday Observer last week that since his forced retirement he has received several threatening phone calls on his home and cellular telephones.

"I received one on my private phone at home saying 'Morrison, you going get f..." he said. "On another occasion they just called and said nothing," he said.

He said that he has reported the calls and threats to the Duhaney Park police in Kingston, who are investigating.

A recent decision by the PNP to fill its two vacant seats on the NWU's 34-man general executive council, in a bid to influence the developments in the NWU, has failed to reduce tensions inside the union.

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