The Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union takes note of Prime Minister Gaston Browne’sunfortunate and disgraceful attempt to denigrate the momentous and epic contributions ofAntigua and Barbuda National Hero, Sir George H. Walter.Browne, in his delusional revision of historical facts, purported that Sir. George is “totallyunderserving” of the designation of National Hero. Browne further attempted to malign theformer Premier by alleging that he was given a “cushy job” at the AT&LU by Sir. Vere CornwallBird Sr., only because of his father’s contributions to the Union.However, quite to the contrary, Sir George’s career at the AT&LU was characterized by struggleand major accomplishments, particularly after he was unanimously elected to the position ofGeneral Secretary on January 03, 1960 when the previous General Secretary demitted office.Thereafter, Sir. George’s unwarranted and unfair dismissal from the AT&LU in 1967 was as aresult of his integrity and refusal to bend to the pressure of the then majority corrupt unionexecutives. These V.C. Bird controlled executive members received a salary for sitting ongovernment boards, and were attempting to influence the General Secretary and other full timeunion officers, to accept a 5% offer during negotiations with the government for better wagesand working conditions. The policies of the administration had also resulted in themarginalization of the workers at the Antigua Sugar Factory, after V.C. Bird took over control ofthe industry. Sir George Walter maintained his stance and supported the workers cause, andcalled for dialogue rather than unilateral imposition by the V. C. Bird led administration.Sir George’s stance in support of the workers’ cause, led to his and one other officers’ dismissalfrom the AT&LU.This situation ultimately led Sir. George to answer the call of the workers to form a new union –the Antigua Workers’ Union, which eventually swept away significant membership from theAT&LU, both in the private and public sectors.
His leadership of the Antigua Workers Union was exemplary and he embarked upon theorganizational transformation of trade unionism in Antigua and Barbuda, modernising andexpanding the scope and organisationtional outreach of the new union to involve both whitecollar and blue collar workers.Because of his exceptional and people-centered leadership, he was called upon to take over theleadership of the Progressive Labour Movement in 1970, and in 1971 led the PLM to aresounding victory at the polls, thus becoming the Second Premier of Antigua and Barbuda.As Premier, Sir George’s contributions particularly in the area of social welfare and protectionremains unrivaled by any other government in Antigua & Barbuda. Moreover, he demonstratedastute leadership at a critical juncture in history when the nation was transitioning from colonialgovernorship to independence.Foremost among Sir. George’s accomplishments for the people of Antigua and Barbuda is theestablishment of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code which gave workers dignity andprotected their rights. Also credited to Sir. George is the creation of the Antigua and BarbudaSocial Security Scheme. These two accomplishments by themselves, have formed the foundationon which a people-centered society has been built.In his five years in office, Sir George pursued many endeavors that would yield exponentialbenefits for generations of Antiguans & Barbudans. In 1975, the PLM administration spent$10,000,000 on education, the highest figure ever spent up to that time. The figure included theconstruction and expansion of several schools including the All Saints Secondary, ParesSecondary, Jennings Secondary and Otto’s Comprehensive Schools. The opportunities andbenefits of this accelerated access to secondary education has redounded immeasurably for thepeople of Antigua and Barbuda.It was also under Antigua and Barbuda’s Second Premier that the one billion gallons of water atPotworks Dam was put into effective and efficient use. In May 1975, Sir. George opened theDelaps Water Treatment Plant which fed the island-wide water distribution system, providingpotable water for thousands of residents and improving their overall quality of life.In the area of Industry and commerce, Sir George undertook the establishment of the Antiguaand Barbuda Development Bank which was at the time described as “a giant stride forward onthe journey towards economic and social emancipation.” To date, this body has providedmedium and long term financial support for numerous agricultural enterprises among otherindigenous business undertakings.While these are just a few highlights of Sir George's contributions, the full record of his impacton Antigua and Barbuda would be impossible to document in this medium, and even so, may stillprove unsatisfactory to an unreasonable and reprobate mind.Sir Georges detractors, would have relished an opportunity to disgrace the esteemed Premierfollowing his stellar performance as the country’s leader. Prime Minister Browne’s reference toSir. George Walter’s incarceration failed to note that the judicial body exonerated him from all
the charges, and in fact, concluded that they were the result of a politically motivated witch huntaimed at destroying his character.We at the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union again denounce and condemn the unwarrantedand vulgar attack on Antigua and Barbuda National Hero, Sir George H. Walter, by PrimeMinister Gaston Browne.We call for an immediate apology and retraction of the vulgar comments made.Antigua and Barbuda will continue to celebrate the life and legacy of Sir. George H. Walter.
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