Aug 09, 2013 News Comments Off on City Hall remains defiant in face of legal threats
…workers prepared to down tools
By Zena Henry
“The Mayor and City Council and its supporters will not be intimidated,” were the words used by the Mayor of Georgetown, as he expressed defiance against the Central Government for what he says are the unethical and unorthodox tactics being used to dissolve the City Council or to make it dysfunctional.
Mayor Hamilton Green told reporters at a press conference held at City Hall yesterday that protests and demonstrations will continue, while acting Town Clerk Carol Sooba will be prevented from entering her office” just as the Mayor is being prohibited from accessing the agency’s facilities”.
In reply to Local Government officials’ threat of criminal complaint to the police, Green said that the issue is not one for the national police, but it is an administrative issue. The Mayor continued that he is not fearful for his supporters, who will stand firm and are not prepared to give up the fight against the imposition of the acting Town Clerk, despite security actions to physically deny them.
In a press statement, Councilor Ranwell Jordan said that, “We will not recognize any of his (the Minister’s) orders.”
“If the Local Government Ministry feels that they do not have an obligation to honour the wishes of the democratically-elected Council, then we will reciprocate. As the democratically elected Council of Georgetown, we do not recognize Ms. Carol Sooba as the acting Town Clerk of the Municipality.”
Jordan added that her appointment came without the Council’s support.
The statement continued that under the law, the Mayor and City Council has the authority to deal with the issue and that is being done. The Council is accountable; therefore all actions necessary will be taken to preserve the respect of the institution and to try the utmost to provide services to citizens.
President of the Local Government Union, Dale Beresford said on the other hand, that workers of the City Council are prepared to down their tools in light of the fiasco occurring at the Municipality. He continued that the staffers are fed up and frustrated, and are unwilling to work under the current conditions. He was talking specifically to the locking up of City Hall.
Since protests started against Sooba earlier this week, there has not been a free flow through the compound of the City Hall. Local vendors picketed Sooba’s home earlier in the week and continued to air their demands at City Hall. As a result there has been a heavy presence of Constabulary officers and members of the police force manning the gates; entry and exit points of the agency. Persons must state their business before they are let into City Hall.
Beresford said even workers are victims to the recent implementations. He said the staffers are living like prisoners and must report every move in and out of the compound. He later touched on the issue of a pay increase which he indicated is overdue. As a result of the escalating City Hall dilemma, he said qualified persons are leaving the job and accepting lower paying jobs.
“If it means striking against our very own City Hall, that is a position we will have to take. We are calling on the relevant parties to let good sense prevail and to come to a meaningful resolution,” Beresford said
In the meantime, protestors again picketed City Hall for the removal of the acting Town Clerk. Sooba eventually came to City Hall in the afternoon and this caused those gathered to go in a frenzy. They shouted for her removal and taunted about her incompetence.
The acting Town Clerk had to be escorted into the compound by bodyguards, who manned her office door even after she had entered the building.
On Wednesday, Constabulary officers, who said only that they were working with orders, removed vendors from City Hall’s compound. After Mayor Green had let them back into the compound for a meeting, the Mayor was denied access to the meeting chambers while vendors were physically denied entrance to the upper quarters of City Hall. The Mayor was told by low level Constabulary officers that he could not pass any orders on them since they were working with instructions.
The Mayor later stated that “legitimate people on legitimate business” were also being denied access to the compound; even University students coming to the Mayor were denied access.
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