– amid war of words with its president
Trade unionist Lincoln Lewis has resigned from the position of general secretary of the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL) putting an end to what Stabroek News has learnt had become a testy relationship.
Lewis, who is general secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), told this
newspaper last week that he had submitted his resignation in June after announcing since last year that he would do so. Stabroek News had contacted him for a comment on a letter which it had managed to obtain, in which he was accused of unprofessional conduct by CCL President Jacqueline Jack. The letter was dated June 16 last.
A copy was forwarded to Lewis and he subsequently said that it was the first time he was seeing the letter though he had heard of its existence.
In the letter Jack said she had written to Lewis before in relation to the “unprofessional manner” in which he was executing the duties of general secretary.
“Regrettably, there has been no improvement and the situation continues to be very unsatisfactory and unprofessional,” Jack stated.
According to Jack, it appeared as though Lewis was doing everything in his power to bring the organisation into disrepute.
She also pointed to his prolonged absence from the CCL office in Barbados and her inability to contact him.
The letter went on to list a number of outstanding issues which the CCL president said were supposed to have been finalised by Lewis but were not done. The CCL, she said, had been brought to a virtual standstill by Lewis’s “irresponsible behaviour.”
The activities included administrative matters as well as collaborative efforts with the Caribbean Development Bank and a Caricom/CIDA Project. Jack added that Lewis’s failure to respond to several pieces of correspondence in which the CCL’s participation had been sought at various regional forums placed the organisation “in a very bad light.”
“For many years the CCL has existed as a partner with Caricom and other regional organisations and because of the manner in which you have dealt and continue to deal with them, you have brought the organisation into disrepute. The CCL’s image has unfortunately been greatly tarnished by your less than professional action and performance,” Jack said.
The letter concluded with Jack imploring Lewis to “repair the damage” he caused the organisation and make a “genuine effort” to redeem himself so as not to demit office in “disgrace.”
Lewis has since responded to Jack – with a copy sent to this newspaper – accusing her of being unprincipled in her handling of the matter. Her conduct violates “every tenet of good administration; industrial practices and norms; justice and fair play.
“Further, that said correspondence was brought to my attention via the Guyana media to which it was forwarded suggests that your intent is to damage me politically in the eyes of my countrymen and in my country where you are aware of my social activism to protect the rights of Guyanese labour…” Lewis stated.
He added that he would not sit idly and allow anyone to besmirch his character in the CCL or among his countrymen.
According to Lewis, Jack’s motive may be deeper “if not hinged to the politics of my country.
“Further, the issue of my performance, which I have nothing to be ashamed of or disgraced over, is a responsibility of the Administrative Committee to whom I am answerable and not you.
For you to ascribe to yourself any authority along this line is to do so outside of the constitutional forum and is indicative that you have no regard for laws, rules and procedures or no knowledge of your role and function in the organizational structure of the CCL.”
According to Lewis’s letter, his performance and the inroads made on behalf of the CCL have been “ground breaking and a solid legacy that others can build on.” Lewis concluded by saying that it was the practice in the CCL that the president leads by bringing ideas and programmes to the organisation to advance its development, something which Jack failed to do.
“During your stewardship the organization has never had the benefit of such input from you; a limitation I shielded as I advanced the ideas and programmes brought to the organisation during my two consecutive terms as president (2001-2004 and 2004-2007).”
Lewis also sent this newspaper a letter dated September 20 last which was addressed to the CCL president in which he noted that he had learnt of her aforementioned letter to him though he was yet to receive a copy, a situation he described as “troubling.”
Lewis, who is also general secretary of the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union, has been a fierce critic of the PPP/C government and his broadsides over the years have not been restricted to traditional labour issues.
“Labour needs to be treated as a genuine social partner,” he has said.