By Latrishka Thomas
A local trade unionist says that the Industrial Court backlog “is far from being cleared”.
“I alone have over 100 matters that are before the court waiting a hearing that would be between one and five years in the waiting,” management consultant and trade unionist, Anderson Carty, told Observer referring to matters filed prior to 2020.
Moreover, Carty claimed that a recent statement made by Minister of Labour Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin claiming there were very few outstanding judgements was false.
“He made an earlier statement on the reopening of the court where he said that there were just about 10 judgements that remain to be written of matters that had been heard … I alone again have about 20 matters that were heard previously, over the last few years, of which I am still awaiting judgement from the court on,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Benjamin, who is also the Attorney General, is calling on litigants to make themselves available for their hearing.
The current delay is due to “the unavailability of sometimes the lawyers and, in other cases, the complainants and defendants themselves”, Benjamin claimed.
“I am asking that all persons who have matters before the court do make yourself available. We are there to serve you, to help you, to have all matters resolved speedily. Please, once a matter has been given a date, make yourself available so your matters can be dispensed,” he urged.
The country’s Industrial Court had been inactive for many months causing a build-up in cases.
Late last year, the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union disclosed that there were over 50 pending cases.
In June 2020, the Ministry of Works handed over the new Industrial Court premises located above the Cost Pro supermarket at Woods Mall.
The new facility contains two large courtrooms which allow for hearings to take place simultaneously.