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PSA President Watson Duke after casting his vote yesterday.

Otto Carrington

More controversy in the Public Services Association (PSA) as 20 employees at the union have been ordered to go on annual vacation leave.

This comes just weeks after the PSA elections were held and PSA President Watson Duke and his team Game Changers retained office.

However, some staff at the union told Guardian Media that the leave they had been placed on appeared to them as an attempt to eventually terminate their services.

Guardian Media has also learnt that some staff were terminated from their jobs. A letter has been circulated with the heading stating termination of service.

Among those sent home were workers attached to the PSA Television and media room as well as the union receptionist.

The letter Guardian Media obtained dated December 28.

In it the union executive outlined that staff members’ services were no longer needed and the union was focusing its resources on its core functions of promoting and protecting interests and welfare of its members.

It further stated that the PSA had determined to discontinue its full-time media operations with full effect.

The 20 members of staff that the PSA President sent on leave are represented by the Bankers Insurance and General Workers Union.

In a media release via his Facebook page, PSA President Watson Duke stated that the workers were sent on leave due to their collective agreement stating that they cannot carry over leave into another fiscal working year and this can only occur through his permission.

“We have had workers here with 60 days leave and they have not taken any for the year, we are therefore cause all worker who have leave in excess to go on their leave with effect from today (28th December),” Duke said.

“The PSA is now led by the Game Changers who made it quite clear that they are concerned about the state of delivery of services to our members we believe that our members are paying money, so we must start cleaning and addressing those issues within the PSA from now and make it absolutely clear that we will be running a very tight ship and very hardship”.

Staff who were sent on leave told Guardian Media that the PSA President had sent most of the executive staff from the bargaining unit on leave and added that this was concerning as the PSA President in the past attempted to terminate their services at the union.

They argue that they were successful at the courts to retain their jobs at the union.

Duke added that these measures are to ensure the best service for members of PSA who come to the union.

He stated, “The action of the PSA executive is in keeping with article 12 of the PSA and BIGWU collective agreement that speaks about annual vacation leave under article 12 subsection H, it states the association shall ensure that every worker proceeds on his or her annual vacation leave eligibility in the PSA the staff is not allowed to carry over leave on a yearly basis save and except by the express permission of the President of the Association.”

On the issue of the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) where the PSA is the majority recognised union, PSA President Watson Duke said he expects to meet with the Public Utilities Minister, Marvin Gonzales.

WASA’s operations have been placed before a Cabinet Sub-Committee which will report on WASA’s Transformation.

The PSA President said he wrote Minister Gonzales and he offered a date for them to meet to discuss the issue.

“We are looking forward to meet with the Minister after the Cabinet has met and given the sub-committee report and I want to let all WASA workers know that the President of the PSA and its current executive will do every single thing within our power to ensure that WASA is transformed with you in it. We are here to save jobs and ensure that WASA produces its mandate”, Duke stated.