Michael Annisette

The union representative, Seamen and Waterfront Workers’ Trade Union (SWWTU) president Michael Annisette

SEAMEN and Waterfront Workers Trade Union president general Michael Annisette said he would not comment on a call by Public Services Association president Watson Duke for public service workers to stay home tomorrow, but called on the public to ask why were there so many problems within Government entities.

Annisette was speaking following Saturday’s call by Duke for all workers to stay home on Tuesday as a show of solidarity with Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) workers.

Last week, Public Utilities Minis­ter Marvin Gonzales said a Cabinet sub-committee report described WASA’s management structure as “top-heavy”.

WASA currently has 426 managers and 4,803 employees.

Duke said on Saturday that the Government was trying to weaken families, accusing it of destroying “working men with families, leaving them fearful”.

He said he and other union leaders met earlier and declared that Tuesday was a day of solidarity.

The Express also attempted to contact Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget and Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) head Mario Als, but they did not respond.

Although Annisette would not say yes or no to supporting Duke, he slammed Government’s handling of WASA, saying it should have engaged the unions while examining the operations of the State entity.

Besides being overstaffed, the Cabinet report added that WASA’s management had “ceded control of the authority to the unions, to the point where the union had now effectively subsumed many of management’s responsibilities”.

“The fact that the Government appointed a committee to look into WASA without engaging the unions, I thought was rather insensitive and it demonstrates a fundamental breach of natural justice,” said Annisette.

He said that Gonzales’ criticism of WASA management and the employees “had no place in modern society as workers and the union must be given an opportunity to defend themselves”.

“I think the question that the public has to ask is why is it that we have so many problems within government entities. Is it because of the unions, management? What is responsible and no one is asking these fundamental questions,” he added.

“WASA would have gone through transitions already but we still have a perennial problem of non-delivery of an efficient and productive service to the general population.”

Annisette accused Government of hiding behind workers and unions, adding that the country needed a fundamental change where “discipline, production and tolerance becomes a reality”.

“This economy will not survive on old talk but discipline, because we have to transform and get rid of these same politicians who get jobs for their friends,” he said.

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