Parties get time to present closing arguments in dismissed Transport Board workers’ case

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The case involving the 25 former Antigua & Barbuda Transport Board Workers, who were fired from the company in 2014, was yesterday heard in the Industrial Court.
Deputy General Secretary of the Antigua & Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) Chester Hughes said that Queen’s Counsel Justin Simon represented the workers who were required to give evidence at the hearing on Thursday as well as the Financial Comptroller of the Board.
He said that aspects of the case have come to a close despite the fact that the Chairman of the statutory corporation, Dean Jonas was absent from the proceedings.
“The courts have given both parties 21 days to submit their closing arguments and the court is of the opinion that it would give a judgement within a week after the 21 days,” Hughes said.
The workers, some of whom had given up to 10 years of service at Transport Board, were fired in 2014 as part of what the board had said was a restructuring plan.
Their bargaining agent, which referred the matter to the Labour Department, had argued the ex line staff employees were unfairly dismissed and the move was based on political motivation.
In the two-page Conciliation Report issued in 2015, Labour Commissioner Eltonia Rojas said the department could not validate the union’s claim of victimisation, however, the Transport Board failed to prove that an objective criterion was employed in the retrenchment process.
Rojas has also recommended that the over 20 workers should be reinstated without loss of benefits, pending the formulation and execution of an objective criterion for the retrenchment process.
Hughes said the union maintains the stance it took years ago and the body is hoping for a judgement in favour of the workers.
“The union was seeking damages for unfair dismissal and we were also seeking compensation and any other cost the court deemed fit for the manner of dismissal of these employees.  Let us wait and see because we do not want to pre-empt the decision of the court, but we feel very strongly about the matter,” Hughes said.

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