Teachers’ Union to test validity of collective agreement in court
November 23, 2012
Teachers’ Union to test validity of collective agreement in court

The teachers’ union has asked its lawyer to file a constitutional motion to test the validity of the collective agreement the union signed with the government in 2005.{{more}}

The agreement came to national attention in 2011, because the government has said that a section, which provides for teachers to return to their posts having unsuccessfully contested general elections, is unconstitutional.

Teachers Addison Thomas, Kenroy Johnson, Elvis Daniel and Elvis Charles, who ran and lost in the 2010 general elections, resigned from the teaching service when it was said that the provision that should have allowed election leave, was unconstitutional.

Charles, who ran for the ruling Unity Labour Party, was later made a senator, while the others, who ran for the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), were not rehired as teachers.

And Jomo Thomas, who was this year retained as the union’s lawyer, said he will ask the court to rule on the Government’s take on the collective agreement.

“… the Teachers’ Union has … asked me to do a test case on the issue of the collective bargaining agreement, which it contends that the Government violates by failing to rehire the teachers.

“They want to test to see if the Government’s position is correct. The Government argues that the teachers’ action is in violation of the Constitution and they (the Union) are going to test to see if that is the view of the court,” he told SEARCHLIGHT.

Thomas said the constitutional motion “will be filed shortly, probably before the week ends.”

He was also optimistic that the court would side with the union.

“Based on the work that we have done so far, we think that there is a good likelihood that the court would rule in the Union’s favour,” he said, adding that the court gives precedence to constitutional motions.

“They (constitutional motions) come to the court quite quickly, once they are filed.”

Thomas, however, said that the three teachers who ran on behalf of the NDP “are only incidental” in the motion and that it is not being filed on their behalf.

“Those particular teachers are claimants in the matter but it is not as if this is about the teachers. It is about the validity of the collective bargaining agreement which was signed,” he told SEARCHLIGHT. ([email protected])