BELIZE CITY, Mon. Aug. 14, 2017-Eldred Neal, who was suspended after a May 19 meeting of the council of management of the Public Service Union (PSU) over a secretly recorded conversation he had with other union members in which derogatory remarks were made against the Garinagu, is being reinstated as the union’s president after a meeting was held this past weekend.
Neal appeared at a Council of Management meeting held on Saturday, August 12, 2017, at the PSU headquarters, requisitioned by members of the Belmopan branch.
Edmund Zuniga, Jr., who heads the Belize City branch of the PSU, told Amandala that at the meeting, Neal admitted to making the controversial statements and apologized to the Garifuna people of Belize and those present at the meeting. Although nothing was demanded in writing, Neal will apologize to the wider membership at the AGM, Zuniga indicated.
Dareth Obermayer, president of the Belmopan branch of the PSU informed our newspaper that there were 14 of 17 members of the council presence and when the vote was held on the matter of Neal’s status, 13 members, excluding Neal, voted. Twelve voted in favor of his reinstatement while one abstained, because that person said that she did not have a mandate from her branch membership.
According to Obermayer, Neal is being reinstated with conditionalities, and one of them is that he will only present the president’s report at the upcoming general meeting, due to be held on August 19. The chairing of the meeting, usually done by the president, is to be done by the 1st vice president, Herman Pastor, Jr.
Obermayer said that the PSU voted to reinstate Neal because they wanted to be unified for the upcoming AGM. The weekend meeting was mediated by Solicitor General Nigel Hawke.
We understand that the matter of ethnic tensions is due to be addressed at the upcoming AGM, since it remains one of concern of the union and its members.
Neal was elected to serve a term of two years and elections will be held for the posts of president, 2nd vice president, secretary general and councilors (two seats) at the upcoming meeting.
It remains to be seen whether Neal, who is now eligible to be nominated and reelected after the lifting of his suspension, will again compete for the presidency of the PSU.
When we contacted Neal today, he declined comment to our newspaper, saying that he had arranged an exclusive interview with a television station.
Amandala understands that there are at least two persons who may seek the office of PSU president: Gerald Henry, Jr., of the Office of the Auditor General, and Dareth Obermayer, who chairs the Belmopan branch of the PSU.
Although Neal gets reinstated for a full business week prior to the AGM, should he be nominated and re-elected, a transition period would ensue for the handing over of the presidency which could take weeks.
We are told that although Neal had been suspended back in May, there was never a handing over of the office to give effect to that suspension.
An unofficial release issued last week by members of the PSU Belmopan branch stated, “The issue of the suspension has dragged on for too long to the detriment of the functions and the image of the Public Service Union.”