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Wednesday 17 July 2019
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Industrial Court not anti-employer

Deborah Thomas-Felix, President of the Industrial Court.
Deborah Thomas-Felix, President of the Industrial Court.

UPDATE:

INDUSTRIAL Court president Deborah Thomas-Felix has again sought to dispel the claim that the court is biased against employers. Business leaders have in the past blamed the court for low productivity, saying it is harsh and oppressive in its judgments and favoured workers and unions.

Acknowledging that under prevailing economic conditions, it was likely the court’s objectivity and fairness will be called into question, Thomas-Felix provided statistics from as far back as 2011, to dismiss the suggestion it is anti-employer. “It is my sincere hope the facts would serve to dispel the misconception and unfounded statements that tend to be repeated and amplified,” Thomas-Felix said.

Of the total number of cases disposed of over the period 2011-2015 - 2,744; 27 per cent (or 747) were from judgments in the adversarial process. Of those 747 cases, 30 per cent were in favour of employers. For non-adversarial cases, 15.6 per cent (or 427 cases) were disposed by conciliation; 19.6 per cent (or 539 cases) were settled by the parties and 24.9 per cent (or 683 cases) were withdrawn. Of the cases withdrawn for that period, 330 (or 35.4 per cent) were withdrawn by unions and the court dismissed 23 cases filed by unions on behalf of workers, this year alone.

“In short, those outcomes were in the employers’ favour. These are not outcomes that are widely repeated, although they reflect the reality of the work of the court.”
“Similarly, it must be acknowledged that the companies that value their human resources, respect the country’s labour laws and policies and maintain the practice of good industrial relations, are unlikely to be involved in matters which are not settled in a manner agreeable to all parties,” she said.

She assured that the court will never violate the rights of any of its social partners, pointing out that labour standards are not imposed, but adopted voluntarily in TT’s regulatory framework.

Thomas-Felix also provided other statistics of the court’s caseload. For 2017 to 2018, 1169 new cases were filed; 103 less than those filed for the previous year. For this period, the court disposed of 932 cases, with a disposal rate of 79.7 percent.

Of the 932 cases disposed, 302 were through judgments delivered, 330 were withdrawn, 277 cases were settled and 23 cases were dismissed by the court.

Trade disputes amounted to 781, and there were 76 retrenchment and severance cases and 52 Occupation Safety Health cases. Present at the opening were Chief Justice Ivor Archie, Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, president of the Law Association Douglas Mendes, SC, president of the Equal Opportunities Tribunal Donna Prowell-Raphael and others.

ORIGINAL STORY:

INDUSTRIAL Court president has again sought to dispel the claim that the court is biased against employers.

Business leaders have in the past blamed the court for low productivity in the country, saying it is harsh and oppressive in its judgments and favoured workers and unions.

Acknowledging that under prevailing economic conditions, it was likely that the court’s objectivity and fairness will be called into question, Thomas-Felix provided statistics from as far back as 2011, to dismiss the suggestion that the court was anti-employer.

“It is my sincere hope that the facts would serve to dispel the misconceptions and unfounded statements that tend to be repeated and amplified.”

Also present at yesterday’s opening were Chief Justice Ivor Archie, Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, president of the Law Association Douglas Mendes, SC, the Employrand president of the Equal Opportunities Tribunal Donna Prowell-Raphael, among others.

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