Duke dares WASA: Fire me!

File Photo: Watson Duke. Photo by Roger Jacob
File Photo: Watson Duke. Photo by Roger Jacob

PUBLIC Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke on Monday dared WASA executive director Dr Lennox Sealy to fire him from the authority.

Duke issued his challenge after receiving a letter from Sealy, instructing him to reply by Wednesday because "failure to do so will result in the termination of your employment."

Duke also told WASA's workers to be prepared for "progress and protest" if Government threatens to shut down WASA. In a video on Facebook, Duke said he would not be replying to the April 14 letter from Sealy.

"I will not respond! If you name boss, you fire me!"

In the letter, Sealy said WASA had previously written to Duke about the "untenable nature of the indefinite time off for union's business" he was taking. He said WASA wanted a written response from Duke "relative to his contnued employment" at the authority by March 26.

Having received no reply from Duke on that date, Sealy said Duke's continued employment with the PSA was "not in the best interest" of WASA.

Last month, Duke said he was on no-pay leave from his managerial post at WASA and would not be returning to it.

Duke warned that his lawyers were ready to bring criminal charges against Sealy if he is fired. An April 19, letter from Duke's attorney Imran Ali to Sealy said there was no basis for Duke to be dismissed. Ali said any such action would be "harsh , oppressive and amount to a criminal offence and unconstitutional."

Duke explained that as a member of the PSA's executive, there was nothing legally wrong with him taking no-pay leave from WASA to do union business.

He said this move was nothing new.

"They expelled me from the union and almost fired me from WASA in 2008."

He described Sealy as "lazy" and "Satan."

Duke scoffed at Sealy's statement that his role as Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Minority Leader "is a conflict of interest" with the Civil Service Act., saying he is not a civil servant.

Owing to the THA's six-six electoral deadlock, Duke said, he was not minority leader as the assembly cannot be convened by law under these circumstances.

He wondered whether Sealy was upset that his party, the PDP, was able to take four seats in the THA away from the PNM on January 25.

He took aim at Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales, comparing him to Warner Bros Looney Tunes character Speedy Gonzales and former public utilities minister Mustapha Abdul-Hamid. He claimed the PNM always hired young government ministers when it wanted to shut down WASA.

He told WASA workers the PSA had a plan to make WASA "take a breath and pause for a cause" if any attempt is made to shut it down, and told them their jobs were safe.

"Put it in your pipe and smoke it. Dip it in your tea and drink it."

He said the union was ready "to take the fight to the hills and valleys" if it had to.

In March, Duke warned to "prepare the morgues" if any move were made to close WASA.

Gonzales countered, "Well, he (Duke) shouldn't hide from speed bowling. Come out and face the heat."

He said Duke's utterances were tantamount to "schoolyard behaviour.

"I also think he should behave like an adult and present himself to the media live to answer the citizens of TT on the myriad of questions concerning his conduct."

Last month, Duke said claims about his being investigated by the Fraud Squad for a $500,000 pension payment he received in 2019 were false. He claimed he was being targeted by the PNM because he is "a story of black success."

Gonzales said, "I do not regard him as someone who represents some of the hard-working employees of the WASA who are desirous of the transformation that the Government has embarked upon for the good of the citizenry."

On December 16, 2020, Duke wrote to Gonzales asking for a meeting to discuss the transformation of WASA while maintaining job and income security for its workers.

Gonzales replied on December 28, saying the Cabinet sub-committee on WASA had submitted its report to the Prime Minister and he was willing to meet with Duke "following Cabinet's deliberation on the report,"


"Duke dares WASA: Fire me!"

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