The Judiciary says it will not be terminating the employment of any worker during its ongoing restructuring exercise.
In a press release issued last Friday, which sought to pre-empt yesterday’s protest over the issue, the Judiciary’s Court Protocol and Information Manager Carl Francis said the move was intended to give effect to several pieces of legislation which were recently enacted to help reduce backlogs in the criminal justice system.
Francis claimed that contrary to what was being claimed, the majority of the 452 people employed in Magistrates’ Courts around T&T do not have currently permanent employment. According to Francis, 13 per cent are on-the-job trainees (OJTs), 12 per cent are Ministry of Labour employees on three-month rotations, 37 per cent are temporary clerks and 11 per cent are employed on contract. The remaining staff have permanent employment and fall under the Public Service Commission.
Saying the legislation provides for giving new staff members five-year contracts, Francis claimed it would give the majority of current staff who do not have security of tenure an opportunity to apply for a job.
“While the Judiciary is seeking to improve its service delivery, its management, its efficiency and performance management, contrary to what has been stated and what is being believed, it is dedicated to ensuring the best arrangements and opportunities for staff,” Francis said.
He claimed that the only jobs being made redundant in September, under the Criminal Division and District Criminal and Traffic Courts Act, are those of clerks of the peace and assistant clerks of the peace. But Francis claimed that those currently holding the positions would not be technically losing their jobs as they do not hold the positions currently.
“They are all acting in these positions, many levels above their substantive posts,” he said.
Francis claimed the Judiciary is offering free training to staff members willing to apply for the new positions of district clerks of the peace and case management officers.
“Training and re-training of staff will facilitate new ways of doing certain things as there will be new tasks to be done. There will also be the need for some new competencies,” he said.
But in a press conference yesterday, PSA president Watson Duke rejected suggestions the exercise will be seamless for the public servants who are not selected for the new posts.
“The service commission is filled to its neck, they are not filling vacancies any more,” Duke said.
He also maintained that those who were being encouraged to apply and train for the new positions were being asked to sacrifice the employment benefits they earned during their long careers.
“Who in the world would give up a permanent job with a pension and health plan for a five-year contract? It is trading paradise for a parking lot,” Duke said.