Three officers of the Linden Utility Services Cooperative Society Limited (LUSCSL) have been stripped of their positions but the way forward remains undecided after a special members meeting called last Sunday failed to get off the ground because of the lack of a quorum.
After the adjournment, a planned general discussion on matters of interest to those members present at the Harmony School Building, at Burnham Drive on Sunday, degenerated into chaos as members, including some from the LUSCSL’s management committee hurled insults and called for immediate elections to put in place a new management committee.
The meeting was called on a suggestion from the office of the Chief Cooperatives Development Officer (CCDO) for members of LUSCSL to resolve a petition the office had received from the three members of the society’s management committee who had been removed.
“Because of the removal, some members decided to put together a petition and take it to the CCDO, who asked the society to call a special meeting, which was held on Sunday to resolve the internal problem,” Dexter Copeland, who is a committee member, told Stabroek News.
Copeland explained that although the three were stripped of their respective positions, they are still members of the nine-member committee because the management committee does not have the power to remove them from the committee since they were elected by the general membership.
He said nine persons are usually elected at the society’s annual general meeting to make up the society’s committee of management after which, the elected persons elect the principals – chairperson, treasurer and secretary.
Stressing that stripping the three members of their respective title was not illegal, Copeland said that was why the CCDO advised that a meeting should be held with the membership to resolve the impasse.
One hour after the meeting was scheduled to begin, Chairperson Clint Easton noted that there was no quorum and adjourned the meeting. LUSCSL has over 5,000 members and for any meeting to have a quorum there should be at least 1200 members present. Only about two hundred persons were gathered at the time Easton attempted to call the meeting to order.
“You cannot have a meeting when you have a committee of management in place,” Copeland told Stabroek News while the planned meeting degenerated. “The standard procedure is to dissolve the committee of management before going into elections. Additionally the CCDO or a representative has to monitor the elections,” he added.
Copeland reiterated that had the election been held, it would have been illegal “because you cannot have an election unless you remove the committee of management; secondly you have to verify your membership – you have to do role call to ensure that persons who come to cast their vote are genuine, bona fide members of the society.”
‘Very serious implications’
During the meeting on Sunday, an official working with the LUSCSL for over 20 years said things were going well until a newspaper report criticizing the society’s management came out earlier this year. Earlier in the year, an investigation surrounding a reconditioned tractor bought from Miami, USA, had unearthed discrepancies in the LUSCSL’s management.
According to Copeland, apart from that publicized report, a subsequent forensic report was done that disclosed irregularities in the matter, prompting a call for elections to be held for a new management committee.
“The report has some very serious implications… and I think that actually sparked off people trying to protect their integrity by trying to stop that information going out to the public domain. That is where the whole problem started. So, this whole rambling … was trying to avoid the report coming to the members – what is taking place at the Coop society,” Copeland said, while adding that a meeting was called on the previous Sunday but also suffered from the lack of quorum.
Copeland also said that the CCDO’s office and the society’s lawyer have already been furnished with a copy of the report. “We sent copies of the report to the relevant authority to ensure that they are au fait with what is taking place,” he said.