Duke: Judiciary protest, no political stunt

Pub­lic Ser­vice As­so­ci­a­tion (PSA) pres­i­dent Wat­son Duke is call­ing on Ju­di­cia­ry work­ers to con­tin­ue their dai­ly protests against im­pend­ing re­struc­tur­ing with­in the or­gan­i­sa­tion, over the next four months.

Ad­dress­ing a hand­ful of work­ers, who gath­ered in front of the Hall of Jus­tice in Port-of-Spain around mid­day on Mon­day, Duke called on them to gath­er for a short group prayer ses­sion every hour be­tween 9 am and 2 pm.

“They be­lieve that this is a po­lit­i­cal stunt or a joke. Un­til you take this se­ri­ous­ly, they (the pub­lic) would not,” Duke said.

He sug­gest­ed that the ac­tion, which is ex­pect­ed to con­tin­ue un­til the Ju­di­cia­ry in­tro­duces the re­forms on Sep­tem­ber 1, would help cit­i­zens bet­ter un­der­stand their plight.

“I am con­fi­dent we would earn the pub­lic’s sym­pa­thy. It is one thing to be march­ing up and down but it is an­oth­er thing when we come to pray,” Duke said.

The protest ac­tion stems from a move by the Ju­di­cia­ry to give ef­fect to sev­er­al pieces of leg­is­la­tion, which were re­cent­ly en­act­ed to help re­duce back­logs in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

The PSA claims that the move would mean that over 400 work­ers, who cur­rent­ly hold act­ing ap­point­ments, would lose their jobs, while al­most 200 oth­ers would be re­as­signed to min­istries and state bod­ies which fall un­der the pub­lic ser­vice.

In a press re­lease is­sued af­ter the PSA mem­bers stayed away from work for one day, last month, the Ju­di­cia­ry claimed the on­ly jobs be­ing made re­dun­dant un­der the Crim­i­nal Di­vi­sion and Dis­trict Crim­i­nal and Traf­fic Courts Act in Sep­tem­ber, are those of clerk of the peace and as­sis­tant clerks of the peace.

It claimed that those cur­rent­ly hold­ing the po­si­tions would not be tech­ni­cal­ly los­ing their jobs as they all hold act­ing ap­point­ments.

The Ju­di­cia­ry al­so claimed that it was of­fer­ing free train­ing to those mem­bers of staff will­ing to ap­ply for the new po­si­tions of dis­trict clerks of the peace and case man­age­ment of­fi­cers.

 - by Derek Achong