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Union's Election Action Given Court Go-Ahead

By YOURI KEMP

Tribune Business Reporter

ykemp@tribunemedia.net

The Water and Sewerage Corporation’s management union (WSMU) has been given permission to proceed with its Judicial Review action over alleged government interference in its elections.

Supreme Court Justice, Indra Charles, last week allowed the union’s dispute with John Pinder, director of labour, the Ministry of Labour, and the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) to proceed with all parties scheduled to reappear before her on April 30, 2020. They have until April 17 to file their submissions by e-mail.

Obie Ferguson, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) president of and attorney for the WSMU, told Tribune Business outside court: “Today the application for Judicial Review was scheduled to be heard before Justice Charles. The application for leave for Judicial Review was to be dealt with today.

“The director of labour and the Water & Sewerage Corporation (WSC) decided they would challenge the application for leave for Judicial Review. But yesterday, in the latter part of the evening, they wrote and they conceded that they are not going to challenge the application for leave. So, as a result, that matter has been set aside and the substantive matter is now going to be heard.”

The union sought the Judicial Review on the basis that the Ministry of Labour and Mr Pinder, who is also the registrar of trade unions, had tried to set a date for nominations and supervising an election of WSMU executives and officers on November 22, 2019, without its consent. It is arguing that this breaches the Industrial Relations Act and the union’s constitution.

Mr Ferguson added: “I’m very pleased with how Justice Charles is dealing with the matter, but really and truly they conceded. The WSC conceded and the director of labour, they conceded, so my only remark would be I would just hope that in the future labour relations could move to another level.

“The personal view expressed in solving a trade dispute ought to be a thing of the past. We should follow procedures, and follow it to the letter and follow the law, and if you do that much of these issues that we have in the court would not be so prevalent.

“What will now happen, I would have to prepare skeleton arguments, the Water and Sewerage Corporation would have to prepare skeleton arguments, and we would have to come back in front of the judge to argue whether or not the director acted properly or not.”

Gary Francis, chief counsel in the Attorney General’s Office, appeared on behalf of the ministry of labour, and Lakeisha Hanna, of Harry B Sands, Lobosky and Company, appeared on behalf of WSC. The Water and Sewerage Corporation had no legal representation in the matter up until last week, but is now an “interested party”.

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