Couva South Member of Parliament Rudranath Indarsingh is expressing grave concern with the Government’s continued failure to renew the employment contracts of Judges of the Industrial Court, saying this decision is further pushing the entire justice system on the verge of collapse.
He called the Government’s refusal to renew these employment contracts in a timely manner a crushing blow to the administration of justice and especially to the working class.
Indarsingh called the situation at the Industrial Court another affront to the country’s justice system, similar to Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s refusal to trigger Section 137 of the Constitution with respect to Chief Justice Ivor Archie.
This development represents an escalation of the attack on the Trade Union Movement and workers since those affected cannot turn to the Industrial Court for speedy justice and redress.
The Couva South MP was also very critical of Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi who he accused of presiding over the collapse of the country’s entire Judiciary. He said Al-Rawi’s promise that the matter will be dealt with this week further demonstrates his Government continues to operate in crisis mode.
The Attorney General’s reactive response is another signal of his Government’s attempt to control the courts which makes the entire judiciary vulnerable to political interference.
The handling of this matter is typical of the malaise and incompetence of the inept Rowley regime, which has no track record of achievement after almost four years in national office.
The Industrial Court is a superior court of record, an established and respected national institution, with similar status to the High Court and by literally staving the Court of its judicial officers, the Government has deliberately limited its judicial independence.
There have been clear indications in recent months that the Government wants to either abolish the Industrial Court or to refashion it to suit its partisan designs. This was evident during the labour conflict at Petrotrin and following criticisms of the Court by the business community.
In fact, agents of the Rowley Government have questioned the relevance of the Industrial Court. This is most unfortunate since the Court has delivered justice with even-handedness and fairness and is a bulwark national institution.
Indarsingh, a former President of one of the country’s largest Trade Union, said that the Government’s ineptitude is also manifested in a similar refusal to renew the employment contract of a forensic pathologist, leading to a pile-up of corpses awaiting autopsies at the Forensic Sciences Centre.
This has led to great inconvenience and additional expenses to grieving families, some of whom are holding nightly “wakes” for up to two weeks while they await autopsies.
As with the Industrial Court judges, the authorities were aware of the impending expiry of the contract of the pathologist.
The issues at the Industrial Court and the Forensic Sciences Centre are a further indictment of the Keith Rowley-led PNM Administration’s lack of leadership and management of the country.