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Foulkes: PM Should Fire Hamilton

Prime Minister Perry Christie should ask Cleola Hamilton to resign as a parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Finance and if she does not he should immediately dismiss her, according to former Minister of Labour, Dion Foulkes.

In a statement released by Mr. Foulkes yesterday, he said Ms. Hamilton has been “obstinate and arrogant in the face of a blatant conflict of interest, and she has also clearly demonstrated that she either has no understanding of the rules and conventions of our system of government or that she simply does not care about them.”

“In either case she has shown that she is totally unsuited to be a junior minister of government, which is what a parliamentary secretary is,” Mr. Foulkes said.

“It is unthinkable that the prime minister should allow this situation to continue for another day. It is a very bad precedent and the longer it continues the greater the damage to our democracy. Ms. Hamilton cannot serve two masters. The conflict of interest is obvious and unmistakable. With the Bible in her hand she took an oath to be loyal and faithful to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and to the government and she has also pledged to be loyal to the nurses of The Bahamas and members of the Trade Union Congress (TUC).”

Ms. Hamilton has come under fire over the last few weeks as she is still serving as president of the Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU).

She also serves as a vice president for the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

Last week, members of the TUC executive threw their support behind the South Beach MP.

“It would be a conflict of interest for a junior minister to be an officer of any union much less one that represents employees of the government,” Mr. Foulkes explained.

“Who will Ms. Hamilton side with when nurses have grievances against the government-owned and operated health facilities? How can she effectively negotiate the new Nurses Union’s contract with the PLP Government while she has sworn loyalty to that government? As vice president of the TUC, what will Ms. Hamilton do when her affiliate unions have disputes or are engaged in industrial actions against the PLP government, or in any other actions that may affect the public interest.”

Mr. Foulkes said he agrees with well-respected Trinidadian trade unionist, James Lambert, who recently said that Ms. Hamilton’s actions are “unethical.”

Mr. Foulkes also explained that TUC President, Obie Ferguson, misled the public when he said that there were several union leaders who also served in Parliament as parliamentary secretaries and as ministers.

“He named Sir Clifford Darling as an example,” Mr. Foulkes said. “Mr. Ferguson should apologise, if only for the sake of his continued credibility. The facts are that Sir Clifford served as secretary general of the Taxi Cab Union for eight years before he became its president in 1957.”

“He was succeeded as secretary general by Jimmy Shepherd, who later became a MP and one of the eight MPs who founded the FNM. Sir Clifford led the Taxi Cab Union during the 1958 General Strike and continued to serve as its president until 1967 when he became a Member of Parliament. He was no longer president of the union when he was appointed a Minister of State in 1969. He was named minister of labour and national insurance in November 1971.”

Mr. Foulkes also noted that Sir Clement Maynard in his biography, “Put on More Speed,” said he resigned as president of the Bahamas Civil Service Union to become a minister.

The former minister also listed other Bahamian trade unionists who became parliamentarians but who never served as ministers or junior ministers while holding a union position including: Dame Ivy Dumont, Maurice Moore, Keith Archer, Brensil Rolle, Alvin Smith, Johnley Ferguson, Philip Smith, Garnett Levarity, Caldwell Armbrister, Bobby Glinton, David Knowles, Father Anthony Roberts and Duke Hanna, among others.

“I call on Prime Minister Christie, in compliance with his own code of ethics, the Cabinet Code of Procedure and the long-standing conventions of cabinet government and in the best interests of the nurses and the trade union movement in The Bahamas, to do the right thing and relieve Cleola Hamilton of her post as Parliamentary Secretary,” Mr. Foulkes said.

Sasha Lightbourne

Written by Sasha Lightbourne

Journal Staff Writer

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