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Wednesday 22 May 2019
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Judiciary: No decision to fire staff

Hall of Justice, Port of Spain
Hall of Justice, Port of Spain

The Judiciary has rubbished claims that its workers will be fired in September.

In a detailed four-page response to questions from Newsday, the Judiciary said there has been “no decision to terminate staff.”

“That is a complete fallacy,” the responses sent by the Judiciary’s court protocol and information manager Carl Francis said.

On Tuesday, administrative staff from various courts in TT protested with their union leader, Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke at the Hall of Justice, Port of Spain.

They have threatened a nationwide shutdown of court operations on Monday, dubbing it a “justice holiday/”

If workers do make good on their threat, there are existing protocols “for any impromptu shutdown that may occur for any number of reasons” the Judiciary said.

According to the statement, over the last few years, “the Judiciary has embarked on a process of transformation and improvement,” and this led to the creation of the Children Courts in Port of Spain, Fyzabad and Tobago.

Most recently, the Criminal Division and District Criminal and Traffic Courts Act 12 of 2018 - proclaimed in December – established the Criminal and Traffic Court Administration Department.

It said it has started a programme to give effect to the provisions of the Act and other key pieces of legislation, to improve criminal procedure, the criminal courts, and the Criminal Proceedings Rules. This programme includes the development of court information technology, the development of new processes and procedures and the development of the new administrative structure.

The judiciary said some senior administrative staff, including the Deputy Court Executive Administrator (DCEA) to head the department, have been recruited while the recruitment of the Magistracy Registrars and clerks of the court is in progress currently.

“They will ensure that a lawyer is available to the court office staff which is not now the case.”

Meetings have been held with staff and their union to provide information and to discuss the process of transformation, the changes which will be made to the magistracy and in particular the District Criminal and Traffic Courts and options and opportunities for members of staff.

“The Judiciary is re-organising each district court for improved efficiency and productivity. No one is being carded for termination.

“In this regard, it is to be noted that while some members of staff have been contracted by the Judiciary to fulfil particular roles, a significant number of the staff of Judiciary are public servants who have been assigned to the Judiciary by the Public Service Commission.”

According to figures provided, some 62 per cent of the 452 employees at the magistracy have no tenure and no element of any permanence. For those who do have tenure, the judiciary said it was in the public service, which does not fall within the purview of the Judiciary “and therefore, all matters related to tenure are treated with by the Public Service Commission.”

“No one is being asked to resign their positions. If anyone is an appointed person in the public service, they have a position in the public service. No post which has a post holder is being abolished in any Judiciary restructuring. Note in any event that the Public Service Commission, by law, provides for and manages all assignments of all civil servants in the civil service.”

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