Stepped up fight
He was recently unsuccessful in his bid to get the court to overturn the planned dismissal of Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell.
However, attorney-at-law Gregory Nicholls will be hoping that the second time is a charm, after appearing in court today in defence of the President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), Akanni McDowall, who was unceremoniously removed from his senior acting post in Government last October.
The matter came up before Justice William Chandler in the No. 10 Supreme Court around 10:30 this morning, after Nicholls filed the lawsuit back in February challenging the Public Service Commission’s decision to remove McDowall from the acting positition of Health Planning Officer 1 and revert him to his substantive junior post of Environmental Health Assistant 1.
An hour later McDowall and Nicholls emerged from the court room, telling reporters that there was very little they could say at this stage, since the matter was now going through case management.
However, while acknowledging that his client’s appointment was “temporary”, he took issue with “how they [Government] purported to fill the post”.
“So that is being challenged before the court,” the attorney said.
Insisting that the action taken against him was “illegal” and a case of political victimization, McDowall, whose union had previously called out Customs and Immigration officers in protest of his controversial removal, told reporters today that the union was not prepared to give up the fight. In fact, he warned that the NUPW would be addressing the matter on two fronts.
“We are fighting the matter on . . . the industrial front and the legalistic front,” he explained, while lamenting that all efforts to date to have the issue amicably resolved have been unsuccessful.
“Unfortunately we have not received all of the decisions that we wanted to in a timely manner, so therefore we have to
fight on both fronts,” McDowall told reporters on the steps of the Supreme Court Complex.
However, when asked by Barbados TODAY whether the country should expect further industrial action over his removal from the post, he declined to comment.
“We took industrial action in December last year when we called out Customs and Immigration officers . . . and then there were things going on behind the scenes that we were doing.
“Now the National Council has decided that we would try to fight it on both fronts
. . . there is no conflict between the two, both can happen together,” the union leader said.
In the meantime, McDowall, who is scheduled to return to court on March 31, said the Council would issue a formal statement on the matter in the coming days.
Earlier this month, Nicholls took the fight to his former political opponent Chris Sinckler, challenging the minister’s right to fire the head of the island’s monetary authority. However, after a two week legal battle the application was dismissed by the Court of Appeal, clearing the way for Worrell’s sacking, even though the substantive case is still to be heard.
It is therefore left to be seen how the court will rule in McDowall’s case.