Duke won't be union 'dinosaur'

PSA leader Watson Duke
PSA leader Watson Duke

AS labour activists around the country celebrate Labour Day today, Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke described himself as the trade unionist for millennials.

Speaking to Newsday Tobago, Duke claimed to be the most influential leader in the labour movement in the last two decades.

"There is no trade unionist in this century that has done more for trade unionism than myself. I am the trade unionist for millennials. The others, I say, are dinosaur trade unionists. No disrespect."

Duke, who is also president of the National Trade Union Centre, is expected to lead a delegation of trade unions in procession at 10 am from Shaw Park through the streets of the island's capital, Scarborough.

Members of the Joint Trade Union Movement and other union leaders are expected to journey to the historic Charlie King Junction for the annual walk through the streets of Fyzabad in Trinidad. This year's observance commemorates the 82nd anniversary of the 1937 Tubal Uriah "Buzz" Butler Labour Riots.

Duke, who recently announced his intention to cut back on his duties as PSA leader to focus on his political ambitions, said the union and others will be in Tobago to celebrate the observance. He called on the public to support even if they are not affiliated to a union.

"We are inviting people to come to Tobago. And, if you have no union to march with, come and march with us in the PSA and let us have a grand time celebrating the development and the progress that labour has made in Tobago. Indeed, it has made significant progress."

Duke, in his forties, said his approach as a trade union leader is different to that of his counterparts.

"So, the way I look. The way I carry myself, my ability to mobilise is different."

He claimed many of the union leaders want to take the movement back to the 1930s.

"But the millennials are different groups of people, the jobs they look for, the way they interact is different."

Saying he has achieved "all things unimaginable," as PSA leader, Duke claimed in one four-year period he had distributed over 300 homes, increased workers' salaries to the point where it has become quite attractive and improved workers' health care.

Duke said every worker in the public service is now covered by $3million insurance for critical illness.

"We are moving on in terms of developing a PSA that is ready to suit the millennials because they are the ones that we now have to cater for. You cannot cater for the ones who were before the millennials."

Duke said the millennials do not watch the news but look at news threads on Instagram, Facebook and other forms of social media. Duke, who is also political leader of the Progressive Democratic Part, has accounts on all three platforms.

"So, it is important for me to represent them by my look, language. My content must be towards the millennials."


"Duke won't be union 'dinosaur'"

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