JENNIFER, IS THAT YOU?

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A High Court Judge has ruled that Minister of Labour, Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, acted illegally when she terminated the appointment of National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) general secretary Michael Annisette from the Cipriani Labour College Board.
In a ruling in the Port-of-Spain High Court on Friday, Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh granted the judicial review application brought by NATUC, which challenged the decision of the Minister on February 15 this year, to terminate Annisette’s appointment as NATUC’s representative on the labour college’s board. 

In a written judgment, Boodoosingh declared that former TTUTA president Devanand Sinanan, who replaced Annisette, was not properly appointed. 

He made no orders to quash either of the minister’s decisions since it was made unlawfully and was void from the beginning. 

Annisette’s tenure on the board was to expire on August 14, 2017. 

The judge said while Baptiste-Primus may have acted under a genuine desire to give representation on the labour college’s board to both NATUC and the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM), the law did not allow her to do so. 

Two representatives from JTUM and two from NATUC were appointed before Annisette’s position was terminated for Sinanan, JTUM’s representative. 

Boodoosingh suggested an amendment to the Cipriani College of Labour and Cooperative Studies Act, to allow for more than one organisation representative of trade unions to make nominations. 

He also suggested the minister consult with NATUC if she chose to review their status as the “most representative” of labour in Trinidad and Tobago as provided for in the Act. 

He also referenced the memorandum of understanding signed between JTUM and the People’s National Movement, prior to 2015’s general elections, saying giving effect to any agreement between a political party and a grouping would be an irrelevant consideration where there was statutory obligation to appoint on the basis of fixed criteria. 

Of the decision to terminate Annisette’s appointment, Boodoosingh said there was no evidence that he could have been removed under the provisions for doing under the Act and that the minister ‘could not simply decide to end the three year term just like that.’
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JENNIFER BAPTISTE-PRIMUS
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MICHAEL ANNISETTE

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