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The lawyer representing president of the Public
Services Association (PSA) Watson Duke says
there is no evidence to prove that his client encour-
aged staff of the Immigration Division to breach
an injunction stopping them from engaging in
Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes made the state-
ment yesterday as he presented a no-case submission
asking a five-member panel of the Industrial Court
to dismiss contempt charges against Duke, the
union and immigration officer Purdy Babwah, one
of the staff members who allegedly breached the
Speaking at the Industrial Court s headquarters
at St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, Mendes said
the legal team representing Labour Minister Errol
Mc Leod failed to prove that Duke and the union
had aided and abetted workers to stay away from
work after the injunction was granted on July 3.
Refering to a statement from his client on the
closure of the department s Frederick Street, Port-
of-Spain, office, which was cited by Mc Leod in
his grounds for the contempt motion, Mendes said
that was not capable of inciting workers as it was
directed at frustrated members of the public waiting
He also claimed Mc Leod failed to make out a
strong case against Babwah as attendance registers
provided by the department could not show she
signed and left work or if the union played a role
in her absence.
He also said Mc Leod s attorneys had not been
able to deflect his clients defence that their actions
did not contravene the injunction as refusing to
work under hazardous health and safety conditions
was exempted from the definition of industrial
action under industrial relations legislation.
Mendes asked the court to ignore the testimony
of Occupational Safety and Health Authority (Osha)
chief inspector Gaekwad Ramoutar, one of Mc
Leod s main witnesses who gave evidence that
although the department s building was in violation
of several health and safety requirements, it did not
pose a danger to staff working there.
As he described Ramoutar s evidence as "man-
ifestly unreliable," Mendes pointed to the fact that
he (Ramoutar) failed to inform the court that the
member of his staff, who found the violations during
a site visit a day after the injunction was granted,
had suggested that the department be served with
a prohibition notice for the building.
Although Industrial Court president Deborah
Thomas-Felix invited Mc Leod s legal team to
respond to the application immediately, Senior
Counsel Russell Matineau said he needed additional
time to consider Mendes submissions.
If Mendes s no-case submission is dismissed, he
will then be given the option to call defence witnesses
or invite his clients to testify in their defence, before
the court gives its final decision.
The case resumes on Thursday morning.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Pension bills not law yet
The controversial bills to increase judges
pensions and MPs benefits will not
become law yet.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar
yesterday moved to prevent the Judges
Salaries and Pensions (Amendment) Bill
2014 and the Retiring Allowances (Legislative
Service) (Amendment Bill) 2014 from going
to the President for approval.
The Senate did not approve the two con-
troversial bills but since they are money
bills, they do not require the consent of the
Under Section 64(1) of the Constitution,
money bills passed in the Lower House are
automatically sent to the President for assent
after a month, even if the Senate does not
agree,unless the House of Representatives
That was what happened yesterday with
the PM moving a motion saying it was
"expedient that the bills not be presented
to the President for assent."
Both bills were unanimously passed in
the Lower House last month but caused
public outcry, especially over MPs increasing
their own perks. No indication was given
of how much the increases would cost tax-
After heated debate began in the Senate
last month, earlier this month the bills were
sent to a Special Select Committee of the
Senate but the Prime Minister told the House
yesterday the committee had been unable
to complete its work, as the current session
of Parliament was ending
The PM yesterday supported the com-
mittee s recommendation that a similar
committee should be appointed in the next
session of Parliament, which begins next
Persad-Bissessar noted the public dissent
over the proposals contained in the bills.
"As a result," she said, "I am still of the
respectful view that we should not proceed
with those bills for the increases with the
pensions without having further consulta-
tions and taking the view of all, including
legislators from the House, Senate and other
"I know the judges pensions reforms are
long overdue and so, in the new session of
the tenth Parliament, we will give further
Over 60 MPs and 15 judges were expected
to benefit from the proposed pension plans.
But there was opposition to the bills from,
among others, former Independent Senator
Martin Daly and former public service head
Reginald Dumas, who urged the Independ-
ent Senators not to support the measure.
Former member of the SRC Kenneth
Lalla, SC, himself also a former MP,
described the MPs benefits bill as "self-
Had the bills been passed in their current
form, it was said that parliamentarians might
receive as pensions more money than they
ever earned while in Parliament.
The Salaries Review Commission also
reportedly raised concerns that it had not
been consulted about the legislation and
met with President Anthony Carmona on
In its report of November 2013 the SRC
spoke of the need for a job evaluation and
compensation survey to resolve the question
of whether MPs jobs should be classed as
full-time or part-time.
That would allow a more realistic eval-
uation of how MPs should be paid.
That exercise has not been done, leading
to questions about the basis on which pen-
sion increases for MPs could and should be
calculated. With reporting by Rhondor
No evidence to
MPs, dressed in both
Eid-ul-Fitr wear, pose
for a photograph at
the end of
yesterday's sitting of
Parliament. From left
are Vernella Alleyne-
and Donna Cox.
Procurement bill to return
The Procurement Bill, which was passed
in the Senate and had been sent to the
House, was not passed yesterday but will
be debated further on Monday.
PM Persad-Bissessar said she understood
that several MPs still wished to speak and
several amendments had been suggested
by the Opposition.
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