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Government seeks reversal of ruling in PSC case

Government seeks reversal of ruling in PSC case
Dr Ralph Gonsalves

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The government has filed an appeal against the decision handed down by Justice Esco Henry last year, in the matter between the Public Service Union (PSU) and the Public Service Commission (PSC).

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who is also the minister with responsibility for the public service said during his budget presentation on Thursday, that the appeal was filed on January 31.

Gonsalves read the five grounds upon which the appeal was filed but did not comment any further because the matter was under judicial consideration and could not be discussed in the public domain.

Government seeks reversal of ruling in PSC case
Dr Godwin Friday

“Mr Speaker, if you think I’m trespassing more than I’m supposed to, stop me. I will stop. But by saying what is in a public document in the court, is not undermining the rule of sub judice,” he said.

The Prime Minister said that the first grounds of appeal reads: “the learned trial judge erred in law and misdirected herself when she found that Regulation 18(1) imposes imposes statutory duty on the public commission to ensure that all vacancies within the service are advertised either by circular or in the official gazette”.

Government seeks reversal of ruling in PSC case
Judge Esco HEnry

The second ground of appeal said the judge erred and/or misdirected herself in the misinterpretation of the law when she found that the advertisement of vacancies within the civil service is mandated by regulation 18(2), even where the post is filled externally.

“The learned judge erred or misdirected herself when she ruled that the seniority lists were not disclosed in accordance with Regulation 20 in that she failed to appreciate or accept that the list has evolved into an [electronic] format which was constantly updated,” Gonsalves read.

He continued: “the learned trial judge erred or misdirected herself in her interpretation of Regulation 19 and 27, the public service regulations, in that she did not consider that the public service commission depends on the relevant ministries or departments of the public service to provide the necessary information on appraisals upon which it must act and thus accordingly has performed its functions based upon what was presented by those functionings.”

And the fifth ground upon which the appeal was filed says that “in the ruling that the Public Service Commission must implement forthwith and maintain an efficient, transparent and effective performance appraisal system, the learned trial judge did not consider or sufficiently consider that the existing law provides for such a system and that the Public Service Commission is mandated to comply with the law, which it has”.

Dr Godwin Friday, the opposition leader, rose to his feet in Parliament to seek clarification on the issue.

Government seeks reversal of ruling in PSC case
Elroy Boucher

And he said that what was happening in relation to the appeal was regrettable.

“This is a matter of great public interest and the position that the government has adopted now, will to my view, continue these problems well into the future, and there are a myriad of things that were outlined in that judgment that even the head of public service commission acknowledged. So all of these things are going to be frozen until the appeal is done whenever?” he said.

The judgement in the matter involving the PSU and PSC was handed down by Justice Esco Henry on December 17 and officially published in January on eccourts.org.

It was ruled that the Commission failed to be fair, transparent and objective in the promotion of some public service officers. And PSU president, Elroy Boucher has since said that the union intends to bring further cases against the government.

Wendy Bynoe, president of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union has also said publicly that her union will be seeking judicial review for the process in which teachers are promoted.

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