WORKERS of the Customs and Excise Division and the Inland Revenue Division have been advised not to sign on to the TT Revenue Authority, their representative union, the Public Service Association (PSA) advised on Tuesday, as it announced it has appealed a judge’s dismissal of an injunction which sought to block the operationalisation of the authority.
A call was also made by the union to the Government to hold its hand on the TTRA.
On Monday, Justice Betsy Ann Lambert-Peterson dismissed the application of a Customs and Excise officer in a challenge of the implementation of section 18 of the TTRA Act, which deals with the enforcement division of the TTRA.
The application contended this forces employees at the Inland Revenue Division and the Customs and Excise Division, who are most affected, to decide by August 1 if they wanted to join the TTRA, or not.
Lambert-Peterson said after weighing the risks, she concluded that the State should not be restrained, even by interim relief, from exercising its statutory powers or doing its duty.
The customs officer is a member of the PSA. In a release on Tuesday, PSA president Leroy Baptiste said instructions were given to file an appeal and seek an emergency and expedited hearing.
The release said the matter “affected the lives of hundreds of workers in the Board of Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise Division,who have been told that they have three months to make a decision on transferring to the TTRA.”
It also said the PSA was concerned that the Government was “suddenly moving swiftly to implement the TTRA” even as the substantive claim is still before the court. A trial date is expected to be set by the judge on Friday.
“The PSA is of the view that the Government is trying to steal an unfair march on workers by secretly making moves to make the TTRA fully functional without full public disclosure.”
The PSA also said it has advised members not to sign on to the TTRA but wait on the court’s judgment of the claim which challenges the constitutionality of the act.
“The PSA understands the anxiety, distress and inconvenience that the moves by the government to establish the TTRA would have caused…”
“The attempt to operationalise the TTRA without allowing the court to determine the claim is like putting the cart before the proverbial horse.
“If the TTRA is ultimately declared to be legally unconstitutional by the court, substantial sums of public money would have already been wasted in setting up and operationalising a white elephant and that money could have been utilised on paying decent salaries to public officers, repairing potholes and buying beds and medication for hospitals,” the PSA said.
It also added that the “obscene rush is unnecessary and places the Judiciary in a very compromising and embarrassing position” but was committed to taking the injunction challenge to the Privy Council.
By legal notice on April 14, President Christine Kangaloo proclaimed certain sections of the TTRA with effect from May 1.
The injunction application sought to have section 18 stayed pending the hearing and determination of the constitutional claim, as well as an order suspending the date of operationalisation of the TTRA.