AG focuses on Duke instead of labor court

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Ancel Roget. File photo / Angelo Marcelle

Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) President Ancel Roget said Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi was focusing on being “vindictive” against the Deputy Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA ) and Public Service Association (PSA) President Watson Duke instead of bringing the issues to the labor court.

Roget made the statement after delivering a letter to Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Friday at the Eric Williams financial complex at Independence Square in Port of Spain.

It was announced on Thursday that Al-Rawi had filed a summons to appear in the High Court to interpret a section of the THA law regarding the appointment of Watson Duke as deputy chief secretary while also serving as chairman of the PSA.

He said that one of the critical things he saw happen was the systematic lack of resources of the labor court, “with the support of this government, this attorney general.” So while this Attorney General will find himself very busy trying to prosecute Comrade Watson Duke and focus on retaliation, grudge and retribution as the people of Tobago would have had enough and they spoke out by their vote – instead of taking a lesson from there, they are now embarking on a witch hunt and attempting to retaliate against the people of Tobago by suing the PDP leader who won the THA election.

Roget said that Al-Rawi is taking care of this, although the country knows there will be a resignation to be carried out at the end of the year.

“He is busy trying to take action against the PDP, against the people of Tobago and against the will of the people of Tobago and Duke, while he does not resource the tribunal,” Roget said.

He said that having sufficient resources for the court was not only the business of the unions but also of every worker and the people of TT.

“Although there is a district court and the High Court, in this pandemic situation, having virtual hearings, the labor court does not have the resources to have virtual hearings in the same way.

“Now you have the employers using this as a ruse, saying that they won’t show up to the labor tribunal, and as a result, the workers’ issues are delayed and sent back somewhere in 2022 and 2023.”

Roget said more courts and court space are needed in the labor court to allow more judges to handle cases.

He said during the pandemic, employers took advantage of employees and there were more cases brought to court despite the court lacking resources.

Asked to comment further on Duke and Al-Rawi’s issue, Roget said he just used this as an example and the press conference was not meant to address this. He said it was used as an example to highlight the vindictiveness of the PNM administration and its neglect of issues that would be dealt with with the vast majority of the country.

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