With just a year after his election and induction as Chairman of the Salala Agricultural Workers Union, Mr. Old-man Kollie has pointed accusing fingers at the former Secretary-General and current workplace representative of the Union, Mr. Edwin Diggs of undermining his leadership, allegation Mr.Diggs has since refuted.
Mr. Kollie speaking in an interview with Journalists in Weala Margibi County recently said issues that are arising from workers of the Salala Rubber Corporation came from Mr. Diggs who was the Secretary General of the Union during the regime of the then President of the Union, Anthony O. Moses.
According to him, Mr. Diggs wrote a secret grievance letter to the management of the Company in November of 2018 accusing the same management of deducting three United States dollars (US$3) from each worker, something he said was shocking to him as chairman on grounds that he was aware of the information as former grievance chairman.
Mr. Kollie explained that the manner and form in which Edwin Diggs proceeded with the issue clearly indicates that he is undermining his leadership.
“You know let me make it clear when it comes to the grievance of workers it’s our job, if you give us grievance we investigate the grievance through the grievance proceeding we engage management with the grievances, those are the grievance procedure” he added.
According to him, the SRC management then told Mr. Diggs to go through the grievance procedure and he wrote the leadership of the Union in November of 2018. He indicated that the Union in the same vein attached a letter to his letter and sent them to the management pending discussion.
The Union Chairman averred that his leadership thereafter invited Mr. Diggs to a meeting twice but he refused to turn out only to begin having secret meetings with the workers telling them that the SRC management deducted money from them.
“If you look at our procedure under the GAAWUL Constitution and grievance handling procedure, it’s a complete disservice and undermines not only me but the leadership” Mr. Kollie asserted.
He narrated that when they (Union officials) were elected, he stated that he will not work with them and he began right away by doing things that are not in line with the grievance procedure and the Union’s constitution.
Mr. Kollie could not also deny nor confirm whether money was deducted from the workers but said the day to day activities were handled by the Union President and the General Secretary.
When contacted, Mr. Edwin Diggs denied undermining Mr. Kollie but said he is on the right path. He also admitted that he once said he will not work with the Kollie’s leadership because he is dissatisfied with how the Union election was handled.
He stated that it is true that there is a communication between the Union and the SRC management about 3US$ increment that is being made by the management.
“When I say increment it is that the price of UCI rice on the market is far different from what Salala is issuing to the workers, so they increase the rice price and so it affects the workers by three so that’s why I am saying the increment of the rice; the UCI rice is sold around US$26 but the SRC management is issuing it for US$29” he explained.
Mr. Diggs also stated that he made no error in the grievance proceeding because the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that is governing the management and the workers states that any department that the grievance occurs, the supervisor or head of that department should be engaged with the grievance that occurred noting that with the issue of rice, the warehouses that are at SRC are controls by the management who reports directly to the manager as such; he addresses the issue with the management.
On the allegation of his refusal to attend a called meeting twice, Mr. Diggs indicated that he attended one of the meetings called by the Union but refused to attend the second one because he has earlier told the Union that he was not safe on grounds that the management and the Union wrote against him twice.