High Court orders halt of Wales Estate dismissals

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) yesterday managed to secure a temporary High Court order preventing the GuySuCo from re-deploying and dismissing sugar workers stationed at the Wales Estate until a consultation is held between the two unions and the corporation in keeping with the law.

The Full Court granted the interim injunction based on an application by way of Notice of Motion that was filed on behalf of GAWU, which is represented by its General Secretary Seepaul Narine, and NAACIE, whose representative is its President Kenneth Joseph.

According to court documents seen by Stabroek News, the Notice of Motion sought to secure an interim injunction restraining GuySuCo from proceeding with plans to implement its decision to sever the employment of workers on the Wales Estate unless they have consulted with the unions, in accordance section 12 of the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act.

In the affidavit in support of the Notice of Motion, the unions alluded to the meeting held on January, 20, 2016, at La Bonne Intention Estate, where GuySuCo gave notice of a decision to close operations at the Wales Estate. They said at the conclusion of the meeting they were promised by GuySuCo that information regarding the new venture that will be established at the said estate along with the names of workers of the Wales Estate who would be redeployed to Uitvlugt Estate as well as the names of those who would be dismissed would be communicated.

But while GAWU would have received a letter from GuySuCo containing a list of employees who would have been deemed redundant and thus ultimately scheduled for dismissal, NAACCIE is yet to receive similar correspondence.

In this regard, it is the contention of the unions that GuySuCo’s failure to keep its word is a “flagrant violation and contravention” of Section 12 (3) (b) of the Termination of the Employment and Severance Pay Act.

Further, it was stated that it would seem that GuySuCo is deliberately excluding the unions from negotiations so that they can exploit and manipulate the workers. “By excluding the Trade Unions from such a process, workers are not receiving the best available option, terms and conditions…. The right of Trade Unions to participate in and be a part of negotiations involving employee and employer is a sacred and sacrosanct right…,” they say.

In light of such, an endorsement of claim together with a statement of claim were also filed on April, 6, 2016 for reliefs inclusive of compensation for damages in excess of $1 million for a breach of statutory duty owning under the Termination of the Employment and Severance Pay Act.

Previously, an Ex-Parte application for the interim injunction was heard by Justice Roxane George on April 6, 2016, however, the application was refused on the ground that the application did not disclose any urgency.

This injunction however, was granted by the Full Court comprising Justice William Ramlall and Madam Justice Diana Insanally. The lawyers representing the unions are Anil Nandlall, Euclin Gomes, Sase Gunraj, Manoj Narayan and Sasha Mahadeo.


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