ST VINCENT – PM Gonsalves critical of trade union leaders who secretly taped closed door meeting

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Dr Ralph-Gonsalves
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves is critical of union leaders who secretly taped a closed-door meeting he had with them last month and then leaked it to the media.

“You can’t have an honest, open discussion if one side is surreptitiously going to tape the discussion, as has happened, as we have seen now, it has emerged,” Gonsalves told a news conference here, adding that  in his 17 years of consultation, it is the first time that that has happened.

Gonslaves for CMC
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves

“Because if somebody tapes it without your knowledge, it means that they are very guarded in what they are going to say, so that the conversation is not honest and open, as you must have consultations to be honest and open. Not that I said anything, which was untoward. I spoke what I have always said publicly but we need to observe certain elementary courtesies and protocols.

“Because if I am having a meeting with somebody, and I don’t know that the conversation is being taped, I will find that what you are saying may not well be your own honest expressions, but you may well be speaking for some other ulterior purpose. So I just mentioned that, parenthetically,” he added.

Gonsalves and the Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves met with trade union representatives to discuss the first national budget that the younger Gonsalves will be presenting to legislators later this month since his appointment.

A copy of the recording was also obtained by the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

Among the issues raised during the meeting was the report on pension reform undertaken by the St Lucia-based Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States OECS) Commission.

“We will appoint some fellas and some fellas write a lot of rubbish. If you read a lot of the things they write there, I mean when I saw the presentation, I said you all are not serious. That was not approved, you know. OECS commission can do something, a very generalist kind of a — so I wouldn’t even. I myself, in discussion of pension reform; I wouldn’t even bother with the OECS,” Gonsalves is heard saying in the meeting.

The prime minister also suggested that there would be a “class war” in St Vincent and the Grenadines if pension reform is not handled properly.

During the budget consultation, Gonsalves also locked horns with head of the Police Welfare Association, Sergeant Brenton Smith, over comments the police officer made last year.

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