longer wait for workers seeking justice
Retrenched workers of the National Conservation Commission (NCC) will have to wait for a yet to be determined period for a decision in their dispute brought before the Employment Rights Tribunal.
Chairman of the Tribunal Hal Gollop, QC, today revealed that a ruling in the case brought by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) had been put on hold.
Gollop told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) had a similar case pending and it made sense to hand down a single judgment only after hearing the BWU’s case.
“We are waiting to do that other matter, which is an identical matter brought by the [Barbados] Workers Union. So there is no point giving a decision and making people feel that their decision would be the same. So we have to be fair. Justice must not only be done, but it must manifest and totally be seen to be done,” said Gollop.
The Queen’s Counsel also said that the ruling was being further delayed by timetable challenges on the part of the attorney for the state enterprise.
In fact, Gollop suggested that these hearings would be better off without the involvement of lawyers.
“The institution of the tribunal was not intended to make litigation more difficult, it was intended to make it much easier and there is no need for people to have lawyers. But if people bring lawyers you have to treat them as lawyers,” the senior attorney stated.
“The setting up of the tribunal was intended to simplify the process of industrial settlements [as relates to] employee/employer relationships. The commission is disappointed that it would seem that the fact that clients have retained counsel to represent them . . . it would seem that that in itself might extend the period within which a matter could be heard.”
The Tribunal had reserved judgment in the unfair dismissal case early last month. Gollop said at the time that the matter would require careful consideration before a decision was made and that the written judgment would be announced publicly.
Stating that “a number of missteps were made in the process” of retrenching the 200 workers, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart announced in May 2014 that the dispute was being referred to the Employment Rights Tribunal.
Stuart said at the time that the retrenchment issue would have been the tribunal’s top priority. However, the hearings were plagued by a number of delays, which the Tribunal blamed on the lawyers.
Gollop and attorney for the NCC Mitch Codrington were engaged in a heated exchanged in January shortly after Codrington apologized for any inconvenience his absences in mid-December last year might have caused the tribunal.
And at the final public sitting, the Chairman refused to grant Codrington an adjournment, indicating that there were already too many deferments.