The Christian Workers Union (CWU) has called an executive meeting for Friday, July 27, to discuss, among other things, a recent discovery that as many as 40 forged cheques valuing about $18,000 have been cashed against the CWU’s account.
CWU President, Antonio Gonzalez, was at the police station this morning giving a statement on the matter, and General Secretary, James McFoy, is scheduled to give his statement to police on Friday.
Union officials say that they found out about the alleged scam in late June when the bank told them that they did not have enough money in their account to pay some cheques they had written.
Gonzalez and McFoy are two of three required signatories on the CWU’s account. While none of them would go on record to speak of the issue in question today, Amandala has been informed that at least three persons are being investigated in connection with the alleged forgery. One of them is no longer employed with the CWU.
The missing cheques seem to be only one dimension of the CWU’s current troubles, however, as there are reports of a serious rift in the CWU’s own executive.
Vice President Emerson Burke and President Gonzalez have been at odds for several months now, reportedly over the management of the CWU and financial accounting issues.
Amandala has been supplied with a series of letters that Burke wrote Gonzalez between January and July, raising concerns over various issues ranging from the termination of a former secretary to the fact that the executive has overstayed its term by over a year. Elections are due every three years, and the present CWU executive has been in place for more than four years.
In a letter dated July 19, 2007, Burke wrote both the executive and members to inform them of reports of the missing $18,000, the manner in which the former secretary was terminated, and the state of the union’s finances, indicating that to his knowledge there has not been an audit in three years.
Burke says, “I lay blame squarely on the shoulders of the executive in general and the President in particular. It seems that we have fallen short of being answerable to the people who had placed us in office.”
Gonzalez was cautious with his comments today, but he informed us that the CWU’s audit is up-to-date, and the last report for 2006 was produced this March. He told us the executive is meeting on Friday, and he would afterwards have a statement to give the media.
Burke told us this afternoon that he is not attending that meeting, because his requests for the relevant documents, including financial reports, have not been met and he believes that the executive should be provided with those documents beforehand so that they can study them carefully before attending the meeting.
He is furthermore calling not for an executive meeting, but for a council meeting, which would have the participation of representatives from each CWU branch. He is proposing that the meeting is postponed until a week from now.
General Secretary McFoy confirmed that that executive meeting is still planned for this Friday, and that the agenda for that meeting has already been issued.
We asked McFoy when was the last time the CWU executive met, but he said that he could not give us an exact date at the moment.
Burke claims that there has been no executive meeting to his knowledge since 2006. He said that the last meeting that was to be held was scheduled for January—after he requested a meeting to deal with the termination of the secretary—but that never materialized.
This is where things turn into a case of “he says, she says.” Burke said he attended, but McFoy had a broken leg and Gonzalez was out of the country, so the meeting did not materialize. McFoy says, however, that even with his broken leg he went to the meeting, but Burke was a “no show.” He said that he rescheduled the meeting, but still Burke did not show.
McFoy said that he does not know why Burke, who had requested the meeting, failed to show up.
What is clear at this point is that relations have turned sour between Burke and some executive members.
Apart from raising issues on CWU’s management, Burke is calling on the current executive to schedule the long overdue elections.
We understand that this will also be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting.
Burke has called on CWU members to withhold their dues until the CWU executive sets things right.