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August 15, 2014
PSU gets judgement in its favour against Vanloo – Burgin

A member of the interim committee of the Public Service Union (PSU) says that the organization is looking forward to things getting back to normal, following a judgment in their favour against ousted president Cools Vanloo.

Aubrey Burgin, speaking on behalf of the interim committee yesterday, minutes after Justice Gertel Thom gave her oral judgment at the High Court in Kingstown,{{more}} said that the organization was relieved by the decision, and that the members had expected a judgment in their favour.

Speaking from the PSU headquarters on White Chapel Road, where shouts of “victory” could be heard coming from persons in the building, Burgin said that the Union can now focus on serving its members in the manner it is supposed to, and among other things, hold general elections, which had been put on hold because of the impasse.

“We anticipated that this would be the outcome because precedent was set before, where entire executives were removed in a similar fashion (by a vote of no confidence) at special general meetings. It was nothing new.

“In fact this is the first time that anything of this nature has happened in the Caribbean, where a situation like this arose and the union has been taken to court.

“It means that we should be able to go back to functioning like we are supposed to function.

“We have about 100 members who had outstanding claims for medical benefits… and we were unable to pay them.

“We had our scholarship… we would now be able to pay them, and we have two sets of beneficiaries who are entitled to death benefits for their relatives who passed away during the time.”

On September 10, 2013, the Vanloo-led PSU executive was removed following a vote of no confidence by the general membership during a meeting at the Peace Memorial Hall.

That meeting, chaired initially by Vanloo, saw two motions put on the floor; the first for the removal of the entire seven member executive, and the other for the removal of the General Secretary Simeon Bacchus and Treasurer Jillian Primus.

The vote for the second motion was held and defeated, following which Vanloo declared the meeting adjourned. This call was not seconded, and Vanloo and some executive members left the meeting.

The remainder of the meeting was chaired by Bacchus, and the motion for the removal of the executive was voted on, with 32 members voting in favour and three abstaining.

An interim committee was then selected and given a mandate to handle the affairs of the Union until a new executive could be elected within a month’s time.

This plan was thwarted when Vanloo challenged the no confidence motion in the court of law.

The interim committee consists of Burgin, Elroy Boucher, Elizabeth Williams, Joel Poyer and Bernard Morgan.

Burgin told SEARCHLIGHT that the Union had no ill feelings towards Vanloo, since he had a right to challenge any organization in court.

“However, the fact that we had precedent and he was privy to that precedent, we thought that good sense would have prevailed, Burgin noted.

When contacted, Vanloo referred SEARCHLIGHT to his legal counsel, Nicole Sylvester of the Caribbean International Law Firm.

Sylvester said that the law firm would be looking at taking the matter further, since they had concerns about one of the three rulings made by Her Ladyship, Gertel Thom.

The other two rulings, Sylvester said, were favourable to her client.

Joseph Delves, counsel for the PSU, told SEARCHLIGHT that he would hold all comments until he receives Thom’s written judgment.