PSA accused of breaching court order – return before a judge on January 6

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PSA accused of breaching court order – return before a judge on January 6

More drama is brewing within the Public Services Association (PSA).

The executive of the union has now been accused by its Industrial Court Section chairman Duaine Hewitt, of breaching the union’s constitution by trying to extend the retirement age beyond 60.

This, Hewitt said, is being done in order to allow the current president, Leroy Baptiste, to remain in his position.

Hewitt told media that the issue of the retirement age was one of many irregularities which took place at the virtual special ordinary meeting of the union’s general council on Wednesday.

Hewitt is one of five PSA members who were granted an injunction by Justice Frank Seepersad on December 21 blocking the executive from holding a general council meeting and also freezing its bank accounts. The other members are Curtis Cuffie, Demetrius Harrison, Annisha Persad, and Curtis Meade.

In his decision, Seepersad said the special ordinary meeting could be held on Wednesday and gave certain topics which could be discussed at the meeting.

Hewitt said the proposal for the amendment to the constitution to allow the president to continue in his position past the retirement age of 60 years was made even though it was not mentioned in the agenda or the judge’s order.

“Justice Seepersad told them in its order that if there is any discussion in relation to filling the vacancies, that should be done as a side suggestion, that if there is any discussion in relation to filling vacancies, such should be done on an interim/acting basis given that the council is under-represented and not properly constituted. The proposal was passed at the council level and the conference usually acts on the advice of the council.”

Hewitt asked, “How can you hold a meeting virtually to elect people and amend the constitution, when the executive is controlling the meeting? They have an interest in the meeting, they are controlling who can have access, who can and can’t come into the meeting, who you’re allowing to speak and who you’re not allowing to speak.

“And in the midst of the meeting, while general council members were attempting to comment and raising their hands, they’re ignoring those people and when you were actually given the opportunity to speak, they’re muting your mic and blocking you from speaking.

“In effect, they are abusing the virtual meeting, and refusing to hold physical meetings.”

He said based on the amendment Baptiste now stays in office as president of the union until national PSA elections in December 2024.

“We will have to go back to court. This is a flagrant, flagrant breach of the court order,” he said.

Hewitt said the matter is scheduled to go before a judge on January 6.