Speaking on behalf of concerned public officers who legally challenged Public Service Association (PSA) president Watson Duke in January 2018, with a judgment handed down earlier this month (January), Curtis Cuffie is advising Duke to put everything in place before the end of March.
He said Duke had been telling members of the media that there was no judgment, but showing a copy of it in his hand, Cuffie said, “This is the written judgment here.”
He added: “This judgment is about the mismanagement and the misappropriation of funds in the PSA dating back a decade. At present Mr Duke have to account for over $200 million of the PSA funds.”
Cuffie explained that according to the PSA’s constitution, a financial audit must be done every year and an ordinary conference of delegates must be held every year.
At those conferences a budget has to be produced to run the organisation for the next fiscal year.
“None of these things have been done in ten years,” said Cuffie.
He added: “We are saying an annual conference must be held in the first quarter and as a result of the judge saying that there was evidence to support the unlawful expenditure, the conference must be held in the first quarter, and to hold a conference there must be audited finances so we will advise Mr Duke that all things must be put in place before the end of March.”
Cuffie has also said Duke has removed some 75 of the 125 sections off of the general council, with just 24 sections present at any general council meeting, on any given month.
He said: “The general council is the arm of the PSA that is responsible for running the PSA affairs. And the president is supposed to report to the general council. Also, all finances are supposed to be approved by the general council. It don’t happen. It don’t have a budget.”
Cuffie also said the PSA election was stopped two years ago because there were a lot of irregularities in the voter’s list. Over 5,000 irregularities, he said, but once there is a proper financial audit, it will determine the financial position of the union with a view to ascertain the membership.
He also said, another of the judge’s orders, was that the audit would be commissioned by the end of January and the PSA executive must give the concerned officers an update on it.
Also in the court order, Cuffie said: “The judge says that all extraordinary spending must stop. He also made an order for all section elections to be completed by February 14. Once we have all the section elections, the PSA will be properly reconstituted. And when that happens, the power will return to the union and then we can decide the fate of the union going forward once the PSA is properly constituted with all the relevant sections on board.”
The group feels everything should be completed in three to four months.
Moments before, at a media conference in his office, Duke said of the court order: “We have nothing to fear. The only thing we take home at the end of the month is our salaries. All the books are always available.
“We were not able to have a general council for a few years because every time we call a conference persons would not come. So we are going to try the conference again this year and let’s see how it goes. But all the money we have spent are above board.”
Duke said the judgment which Cuffie referred to was made in the absence of information from the executive.
He explained: “There was some mixup and we were not able to file a defense statement in time, so they moved swiftly and called for a judgment in default. However I am happy to announce that we will be complying with the judge’s order and it will definitely run afoul of the rights of several members but our members will have to take it up with the judge. He has given an order, and we right now are setting out something in place to ensure all elections are conducted.”
Asked about the disbanding of sections Duke said: “If there were any sections to be disbanded it should have been Curtis Cuffie section. That section I would love to disband, but we don’t disband sections. Watson Duke love a position. I enjoy it. I do not despise objections or opposition, I enjoy it.”