PUBLIC Services Association (PSA) head Watson Duke described Ian Murray, his close colleague now opponent in the upcoming November PSA election, as a “Judas” who after working with him in handling all the union's affairs, has now cast aspersions on his leadership.
In a Facebook post on September 18, Murray said Duke in recent times displayed “disrespectful, self-serving and irresponsible” behaviour which had hurt the union’s image. He further claimed the association battles with issues of transparency and accountability.
Murray said he was a member of the PSA for 38 years and joined its executive in 2011.
“During the past nine years, I have served the membership with integrity, respect and professionalism,” Murray said.
He added, “The current state of the PSA leaves much to be desired, particularly in the areas of transparency and accountability...This situation is untenable and must not continue.”
Murray said now was the time for collective action to foster good governance, healing and unity.
“You are therefore called upon to rescue this noble association, which has been plunged into the dark abyss.
“Consequently, like-minded members and myself have taken the decision to contest the national executive elections of the PSA.
“The decision was not taken lightly and was the result of careful deliberation and prayer over a 30 month period.”
Contacted on Sunday, Duke said he was stunned by Murray's remarks.
He said, “I have never believed in reincarnation until now; having heard and seen him, I now can say Mr Murray is Judas reincarnated. He’s selling out his leader for 20 pieces of silver just to be a president, just to drive in a car and be called 'Presi', that’s what he’s selling out for. It’s unfortunate.”
Murray withdrew his support from Duke and his Game Changers team and announced his own team, the Labour Warriors.
Confused by Murray’s decision to raise red flags against him during the PSA elections, Duke asked “why now? He said Murray “was with me all the time sitting with me breaking bread with me, sat in the General Council which is the finance committee, oversaw all of the financials."
Duke described the comments and alarms concerning transparency and accountability within the PSA as unfortunate and cynical. He asked all PSA members to judge him by his achievements over allegations of malfeasance.
He alleged, “Murray voted on all the financials, he never quarried or raised any red flags. As a matter of fact, the general council was okay with the financials. So to see him speak about transparency and financials, I’m quite concerned about that and I believe he would have facts."He added, “It’s unfortunate that my vice-president Ian Murray would make such cynical remarks having served under me for about seven years.”
Duke challenged Murray to produce evidence to prove any allegations.
“I wish him all the best for his success, and I say to him that like Bruce Willis, I die hard. It will not be an easy fight defeating me.“People who are looking at the elections must ask one important question: 'Will Murray or Mr who is who, can that person properly represent me? Will the government listen to that person, can that person negotiate for me? What is that person's track record?'
Duke said Murray offered very little to the PSA and rode his coattail.
“Apart from Murray’s ponytail, very little is known of him or about him, his abilities are non-existent. It is my goodness that has caused him to survive this long in the trade union unit. He simply survived under my shadows and ride upon my Watson Duke brand. But as you go throughout the public service he isn’t known for anything...
“It will take more than a ponytail to win the election and he must start doing the work, protecting public officers and stop pretending as he is some labour warrior when he is not.”
According to Duke, it takes someone who is not only people-centred but also determined, fearless, and with a strong passion to “act without fear or favour” to serve as president as a PSA.
Duke claimed to have made the PSA the most vibrant union in TT and listed successes in negotiations for members to enjoy hefty back pay, higher salaries, permanent jobs, better health care.
"People have been fired, I have brought them back. I got locked up for the workers but I still and will continue to step into every fight for workers. I have done the work. What has he done?” Duke said he has a full slate for the elections but declined to reveal it.
"It's too early," he said.