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PSA files appeal against TTRNA injunction

Public Services Association (PSA) president Leroy Baptiste has called on his members to refrain from accepting employment offers in the T&T Revenue Authority (TTRA), until the substantive lawsuit is determined.

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.

In a release, Baptiste said the union has filed an appeal through its member, Customs and Excise officer Terrisa Dhoray, on whose behalf the lawsuit was pursued.

Baptiste said, “The PSA is concerned about the fact that the Government is suddenly moving swiftly to implement the TTRA notwithstanding the fact that it has a claim pending before the High Court challenging the constitutionality of the TTRA by its very nature.”

“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,” he added.

He called on his members to refrain from accepting employment offers in the TTRA until the substantive lawsuit is determined.

“The PSA wishes to assure the affected workers of the Board of Inland Revenue and the Customs and Excise Division that it stands with them in their struggle for justice and remains committed and prepared to take this case to the highest court, the Privy Council in London, if needs be, should the Government fail to do what is right in the interest of the workers,” Baptiste said.

Delivering a decision on Monday afternoon, High Court Judge Betsy-Ann Lambert-Peterson dismissed the injunction application from Dhoray seeking to postpone the implementation pending the determination of her substantive case over the move that was supported by the PSA.

“After weighing the relative risks in granting or refusing the interim relief sought, I have concluded that the Defendant should not be restrained, even by interim relief, from exercising its statutory powers or doing its duty towards the public at large,” Justice Lambert-Peterson said.

Justice Lambert-Peterson ruled that Dhoray had raised a valid case for determination.

“It is clear that in this case, the issues that arise are neither frivolous or vexatious,” she said.

However, Justice Lambert-Peterson noted that Dhoray’s challenge over the validity of the move was not so “firmly based” to justify the injunction.

“To grant interim relief in the circumstances presented by the parties is likely to do more harm than good since the Defendant’s case appears to be stronger than that of the claimant,” Justice Lambert-Peterson said.

She also noted that Dhoray’s lawyers failed to prove that she would suffer irremediable harm without the injunction in place.

“It is highly likely that the claimant, should she succeed at trial, would be adequately compensated for any loss or prejudice she would have suffered by any of the Defendant’s continued acts between the application of interim relief and the culmination of the trial,” she said.

In the substantive lawsuit, Dhoray is challenging the constitutional validity of the T&T Revenue Act 2021, which prescribed the long-touted shift.

She is contending that certain segments of the legislation are unconstitutional as they seek to interfere with the terms and conditions of employment of public servants currently assigned to the CED and IRD.

The substantive case is scheduled to come up for hearing on Friday.