3 forestry workers threaten to sue NUGFW

The Hall of Justice in Port of Spain. -
The Hall of Justice in Port of Spain. -

THREE workers of the Ministry of Agriculture’s forestry division are threatening to take their union to court for allegedly failing to act on their behalf in an employer-employee dispute over promotions.

In a pre-action protocol letter, attorney Richard Jagessar wrote to the National Union of General and Federated Workers (NUFGFW) on behalf of workers and union members Deonarine Sookdeen, Winston Phillip and Samuel Martin, accusing the union of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.

“In each of their cases, my clients have been passed over for promotion and as a result deprived of the greater salary and benefits that naturally accompany those posts,” Jagessar said.

He said the three had asked the union to initiate the grievance process under the collective bargaining agreement, but this was never done and no reason was given as to why not.

The three are daily-paid workers at the division.

Phillip is a grade 4 carpenter maintenance, employed for over 42 years; Sookdeen is a grade 6 driver/operator, employed for 39 years; and Samuel Martin is a grade 8 handyman, employed for 37 years.

Jagessar also said their union dues are up to date and they are in good financial standing with the NUGFW.

He said the three ought to have been promoted to senior positions in the division when these became available and in March and April, last year, two positions opened up.

“Mr Phillip and Mr Martin ought to have been promoted.”

But, he said they were bypassed and juniors, who were not qualified, were instead promoted and given dual positions, which was not permitted.

The attorney said in Sookdeen’s case he had been passed over for promotion since 2014 .

“My clients brought this to the attention of the union on or around June 15, 2020,” Jagessar said, adding there has been no response from the NUGFW.

“The failure, refusal and/or neglect of the union to act on behalf of my clients is a breach of contract.”

He said each of the three workers would have lost out on thousands of dollars in salaries and allowances, and he has been instructed to institute legal proceedings against the union.

e will be seeking damages for loss of earnings, distress and inconvenience, in addition to breach of contract, and an order compelling the NUGFW to file an action on his clients' behalf.


"3 forestry workers threaten to sue NUGFW"

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