The Public Service Association (PSA) has lost its bid to have disputes over the appointments, transfers and promotions of public servants by the Public Service Commission (PSC) be determined by a Special Tribunal of the Industrial Court.
Delivering a written judgement in the PSA’s statutory interpretation lawsuit, during a virtual hearing, yesterday morning, High Court Judge Frank Seepersad ruled that the tribunal’s jurisdiction to hear and determine grievances related to the terms and conditions of public servants’ employment did not extend to appointments, transfers and promotions by the PSC.
Seepersad said, “The Special Tribunal is a creature of statute, its jurisdiction is confined to the statutory parameters by the Act and there simply exists no statutory authorisation for the Special Tribunal to review decisions of the PSC with respect to appointments, transfers or promotions of civil servants.”
“That responsibility must be discharged by Judges of the Supreme Court upon whom rests the obligation to fearlessly defend the Constitution and protect the entrenched rights of all citizens,” he added.
Seepersad noted that the Supreme Court had played a pivotal role in protecting the rights of citizens in numerous cases over discrimination and divisiveness along racial and political lines.
“The Court must with continued vigilance ensure that every citizen who serves in the Public Service is treated with equality, reasonableness and procedural fairness,” Seepersad said.
“This supervisory jurisdiction is not one which it should arbitrarily remove from its exclusive remit,” he added.
He also pointed out that such cases usually deal with complex legal issues and members of the tribunal do not all have legal training.
As part of his decision in the case, Seepersad ordered the PSA to pay half the legal costs incurred by the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO), the Office of the Attorney General, and the PSC incurred in participating in the case.
The PSA was represented by Lloyd Elcock and Gorgonia Auguste. Karlene Seenath and Amrita Ramsook represented the CPO and the AG’s Office, while Nadine Nabie and Michelle Benjamin represented the PSC.