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Judge reinstates suspended PSA 4
A High Court judge has ruled that the suspension of four executive members of the Public Services Association (PSA) was unlawful. Justice Joan Charles gave the ruling in an oral judgment in the Port-of-Spain High Court yesterday. Yesterday’s ruling came exactly three months after Charles also ruled in favour of three other members who were suspended by PSA president Watson Duke in August last year.
Those members are Joanne Semper-Caprietta, Yvonne de Peiza and Paula Prescott, who have since resumed work at the PSA’s Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain, headquarters. Charles, in her ruling yesterday, ordered that first vice-president Rosanna Robinson, deputy general secretary Rendy Bedasie and trustees Raymond Bulter and Demetrius Harrison should be reinstated to their posts at the embattled union with immediate effect.
Another suspended official, Oral Saunders, had originally filed his lawsuit alongside the group’s but his was distinguished and separated because the facts relating to his suspension differed from the others. In her judgment, Charles said the group’s suspension was contrary to the union’s constitution and breached the principles of natural justice. The group was suspended in July 2010 with Duke also rescinding their appointments to the union’s executive.
Compensation for the loss of earnings of the members during their suspensions will be calculated at another hearing before Charles today. She is also expected to present her written judgment. As part of her judgment she ordered the union to pay the group’s legal costs for the lawsuit.
In an interview outside the Hall of Justice, Knox Street, Port-of-Spain, after the ruling, the victorious members said they were pleased by Charles’ judgment which they described as a landmark ruling on how the suspensions of workers were handled.
Charles also has been assigned to hear a lawsuit brought by Duke earlier this year, in which he is seeking to have the decision of the dissenting members declared null and void. Duke filed the lawsuit after the union’s conference of delegates took a decision to oust him and make Robinson the new interim president.
Duke has maintained he is the president of the PSA and has dismissed claims by the executive that he was lawfully expelled. That lawsuit is expected to be heard next by Charles next January. The battle over the leadership of the PSA turned violent last January, when there was a confrontation between the rival factions at the union’s head office. Charles mediated over the battle for control of the building, granting an order which saw each faction being allowed limited access.
The group’s legal team included Keith Scotland, Ravi Heffes-Doon and Asha Watkins-Montserin. Rajiv Persad and John Heath represented Duke and the PSA.
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