BIDC to pay
THE BARBADOS INVESTMENT and Development Corporation (BIDC) acted unlawfully when it forced seven employees into early retirement more than two years ago.
Because of that, says Justice Jacqueline Cornelius, the BIDC will have to pay damages to those workers.
Her decision, handed down in Supreme Court No. 5 yesterday evening, described the actions of the Government-run agency as “unlawful, null, void and of no legal effect”.
BIDC’s legal team, led by Michael Yearwood and including Neil Marshall, Nicole Roachford and Monica Crichlow, have however signalled their intention to appeal the decision.
The former employees, who were dismissed in August 2015, had challenged the decision made by the BIDC’s board to compulsorily retire them, on the grounds that it was an unreasonable exercise of the discretion under the Statutory Boards Pension Act.
In the meantime, though, the seven ex-employees are to receive the pensions and gratuities owed to them up until the age of 60.
Null and void
Justice Cornelius noted that the decision of the Accountant General, the officers of the Treasury Department, the Auditor General and other public functionaries and authorities of the Barbados Government to process and calculate, or purport to process and calculate the gratuity and pension due to the claimants, was also unlawful, null and void.
Justice Cornelius gave the parties 28 days to file written submissions for damages.
Attorney Gregory Nicholls who, along with Ryan Weekes and Janice Brown, represented the workers, told the media he was relieved his clients would finally receive the monies owed them.
However, he said he would not be able to say exactly how much or when they would be paid.
He said since December 2015, the workers had received no monies from the BIDC, resulting in some of them falling on hard times.
“I wouldn’t say I am jubilant. I am relieved because we never doubted for one moment that the case was a just one and we never doubted that the outcome would have been any different,” Nicholls said.
“Jubilation is not the feeling that I can say this Wednesday afternoon that I am likely to exude. It is a sense of relief. This is not a question of jubilation, this is a question of vindication for those workers.”
One of those victorious workers, Rosalind Cumberbatch, told the DAILY NATION she was relieved at the ruling.
“I feel real good. I feel a lot better because I now feel like a burden has been lifted off of my shoulder,” she said while flashing a broad smile.
A large contingent from the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), including president Akanni McDowall, deputy general secretary Delcia Burke, assistant general secretary Wayne Walrond, treasurer Asokore Beckles, first vice-president Fabian Jones and second vice-president Kim Webster, was present to hear the decision.
Back in 2015, the NUPW led a march through Bridgetown in support of those workers.
McDowall said yesterday it was a victory for the union and for workers.
“I am extremely happy for those workers. I think this decision here today would have brought some measure of closure for them. This would have been going on since 2015 and clearly it would have been very difficult for them to cope with the situation, having not received a decision from the court.
“Today is a very good day for me, it is a very good day for them and it is a very good day for labour in general in Barbados,” McDowall said. (RB)