THE TT Energy Chamber is expressing relief that the Industrial Court has discontinued the contempt-of-court case against the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TTCIC) and its representatives Gabriel Faria, Frank Mouttet and Derek Ali.
In a statement, the chamber accused the trade union movement of being bullies with legislative backing and said the matter, which had been at at the Industrial Court for the past two and a half years, also limited its freedom to speak.
“The Industrial Court should never have responded to the patently unreasonable demands of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) in the first place,” it said.
The Energy Chamber also launched a scathing attack against the trade union movement, accusing it of using powers it had been afforded by industrial relations legislation, “to bully the rest of the population.”
The Energy Chamber said that had to stop.
It also supported a suggestion made by the TTCIC, that JTUM should offer to cover legal costs arising from this case and if that is not forthcoming, suggested the court make such an order.
“As well, the Industrial Court must consider implementation of deterrents against those wishing to raise frivolous charges against other parties,” the Energy Chamber said.
No costs were awarded in the 2016 matter, which arose from a panel discussion in which the TTCIC expressed concerns about court judgements it considered unfair to the employer.
JTUM, in paid media advertisements after that discussion, accused the chamber of contempt. The Industrial Court ordered the three men to appear and provide evidence for an inquiry into the allegations.
The Energy Chamber said: “Over the past two and a half years the threat of these contempt proceedings has limited freedom of speech. The threat of possible contempt of court proceedings led to the Energy Chamber, and other business associations, being more guarded in our calls for reform of the Industrial Court.
“This threat has been in place during a period in which the business associations have been advocating for comprehensive reform of the country’s industrial relations system.
“This sort of attack on freedom of speech must not be allowed to take place ever again. Our democratic system relies upon the ability of individuals and organisations to voice their opinions and advocate for change.
We need to ensure that we engage in constructive dialogue to improve the court.”
It said the TT Chamber’s release on the issue asked “some extremely pertinent questions that the Energy Chamber believes need to be answered comprehensively and emphatically.”
The TTCIC raised several concerns, including the right of the court “to be judge and jury” in a matter related to its own impartiality and whether citizens had a right to voice opinions on the operations of the institutions of this country.
The TTCIC said the discontinuation of the inquiry had left that concern unresolved.