Friday 12th May, 2006


Eastern war of words continues

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By Sherwin Long

The delinquency rate at Eastern Credit Union is not being reported correctly a high-ranking member of the institution said yesterday.

In a Business Guardian interview last week, Eastern Credit Union president Lennox Marcelle said the struggle to retrieve money from debtors was real.

Marcelle added that currently the delinquency rate was 14 per cent and the acceptable rate should be around five per cent.

A source, who asked not to be named, cast doubt on Eastern’s reporting of their delinquency rates.

“They always quote percentage when it come to delinquency, but the figure is really over $80 million,” the source said.

Giving an example, the source said a private school was given a loan by Eastern for $7.5 million and after two months, became delinquent.

He said currently Eastern and the school’s owners were in court over the matter.

Marcelle also linked the rift between the credit union’s board and its supervisory committee to current salary negotiations between Eastern and the Banking, Insurance and General Workers’ Union (BIGWU).

But first vice-president of BIGWU, Mario Als, denied the union was involved.

He said Marcelle’s attempt to involve the union in the impasse was distasteful.

Marcelle described Eastern’s collective agreement as skewed in favour of employees.

Current negotiations will be for the period 2004 to 2007.

Als noted that board members and other elected officers at Eastern had received between a 100 per cent to 300 per cent increase to their stipends since 2004.

The Guardian obtained a copy of the increases in stipends for elected officers.

Up to 2004, Eastern’s president would have received a stipend of $1,000, but that figure was increased to $3,000.

A board member’s stipend would have jumped from $600 to $1,500.

Als said Marcelle’s comment made him wonder whether Eastern’s management was prepared to negotiate in good faith.

“When board members grant themselves an increase of 100 to 300 per cent and the union is proposing an eight per cent increase over three years, what conclusion can you draw from that?”

Eastern’s annual general meeting is set for tomorrow.

One of the main talking points is expected to be accusations of financial impropriety among board members.

©2005-2006 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

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