By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
THE general manager of the Water and Sewerage Corporation said he has instructed attorneys to pursue court action over a scathing letter written by the “disputed” president of the utility provider’s management union.
The letter, written by Ednel Rolle of the Water and Sewerage Management Union, made several accusations about WSC General Manager Elwood Donaldson and Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson.
The letter was circulated on social media on Sunday and was briefly published on a media outlet’s website before it was removed after a lawsuit threat, insiders said.
Mr Rolle is in a leadership dispute with Montgomery Miller, who says he is the “elected” president of the Water and Sewerage Management Union. The Tribune previously reported that Mr Miller’s claims of being the elected WSMU president has caused some confusion, as Mr Rolle maintains he is president of the union despite Mr Miller showing what he claimed to be a valid certificate of the election of officers showing that he won the position unopposed on November 22, 2019.
The confusion came because the Ministry of Labour and Director of Labour John Pinder, who is also the registrar of trade unions, had set a date for nominations and supervising an election of WSMU executives and officers on November 22, 2019, reportedly without the union’s consent. WSMU brought the matter to the Supreme Court arguing that this breaches the Industrial Relations Act and the union’s constitution.
The matter is still ongoing.
In a statement released yesterday, Mr Donaldson described Mr Rolle’s letter as “scandalous” and “intentionally defamatory”.
“It was clearly a political stunt on the part of Rolle. Frankly, such indecent, libelous and venomous utterances have no place in this environment,” he said,
This came after The Tribune ran a story which quoted Mr Gibson as saying he was writing to the Cabinet for it to reinstate the corporation’s disconnection exercise due to WSC being in the red financially. Mr Rolle took issue with this and made a series of allegations against Mr Gibson.
“Though he asserts a claim to the disputed presidency of the Water and Sewerage Corporation’s Management Union, Ednel Rolle - on retirement leave - is no longer an active employee of the corporation,” Mr Donaldson continued. “The falsehoods... in the document bearing Mr Rolle’s signature are too numerous to mention, entirely denied and are firmly rejected.
“However, given the clear intent to damage the reputations of both myself and the executive chairman, we have instructed our counsel to immediately file legal proceedings against Mr Rolle et al for defamation and, today, will be filing a joint police complaint against Mr Rolle for intentional libel.”
Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party Philip Davis waded into the debate, saying this is the second time that union bosses have raised issues about the chairman and Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has remained quiet.
“This is not the first time that unions at that corporation have called into question the conduct of the executive chairman, Adrian Gibson. The silence of the Prime Minister in the face of these complaints have led many to conclude that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet committee condone Mr Gibson’s official conduct.”
Mr Davis and the PLP are calling for a forensic audit of the Water and Sewerage Corporation.
“The PLP calls for a forensic audit into the conduct of the executive chairman of the Water and Sewerage Corporation, Adrian Gibson, as it relates to his fiduciary stewardship and fidelity of the corporation’s property, assets and resources,” Mr Davis said.
Mr Davis said the Prime Minister must act quickly to bring clarity and perspective to these, “myriad of accusations that are threatening to destabilise the corporation”.
He called the ongoing war of words between Water and Sewerage union heads and the executive chairman a toxic and unsustainable situation.
Mr Gibson fired back his own response to Mr Davis. He first said that he intends to seek legal action against Mr Rolle, adding: “I categorically deny all of the assertions and will seek redressin in another place. Today, we instructed our counsel to immediately file legal proceedings against Mr Rolle et al for defamation. Moreover, we have also begun the process to file a joint police complaint against Mr Rolle for intentional libel.”
Mr Gibson went on to criticise Mr Davis, saying: “We welcome a review of the Water and Sewerage Corporation - forensic or otherwise. I believe in and completely embrace transparency.”
He went on to lambast Mr Davis for failings under the PLP government when Mr Davis was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works, citing incidents such as the fire at BAMSI where a contractor had no insurance and the findings of a 2018 forensic audit over a waste water treatment plant at Gladstone Road, and saying Mr Davis “should be the last to talk about forensic audits. He should shudder at the very sound of the words ‘forensic audit’.”
Mr Gibson added: “Brave Davis is an attorney at law. He knows the basic tenets of defamation and, as such, should be cognizant of it. He should also know what it means to pursue fact, before more. Shame on him!”