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Contempt proceedings against Duke adjourned

...Chief Immigration Officer testifies

By Joel Julien

Contempt proceedings against President of the Public Services Association (PSA) Watson Duke began today in the Industrial Court.
Duke arrived at the building at St Vincent, Port of Spain, to loud applause from members who had gathered outside the building.

Proceedings began at 11.15a.m with attorney for the PSA senior counsel Douglas Mendes submitting that the tribunal hearing the proceedings was not independent, since it was the Executive which decided if the appointment of a judge is renewed.

The tribunal adjourned to consider the submission. The submission was dismissed, and the contempt matter has begun, with Chief Immigration Officer Gerry Downes taking the stand at around 1.20p.m.

The hearing was adjourned to next Friday. All of July 22, and half of the day on July 24 have been set aside for the matter.

The tribunal comprise President of the Industrial Court, Deborah Thomas-Felix, Larry Achong, Albert Aberdeen, Kyril Jack and Kathleen George-Marcelle.

The Labour Ministry is being represented by Senior Counsel Russell Martineau and attorneys Addison Khan and Derek Ali.

Duke is being represented by Mendes, Michael Quamina, John Heath, and Anthony Bullock.

- The Notice of Contempt proceedings filed by Minister of Labour Errol McLeod against the Public Services Association and Watson Duke and Purdy Babwah with the Industrial Court:


(a) that Mr. Watson Duke, President of the Public Services Association, be committed to Prison for contempt for aiding and abetting the breach of the Order of the Honourable Court dated and entered the 3rd day of July, 2014 by calling out and/or instructing staff of the Immigration Department/Division and/or encouraging and/or counselling members of the public service, public officers, and other staff employed at the Immigration Department/Division at No. 67 Frederick Street, Port of Spain and San Fernando to sign in and leave their jobs without working by telling them that the office is shut down until whenever as a result of which the said members of the public service (public officers) namely, those named in the affidavit of Gerry Downes filed herein on the 10th July 2014 failed and/or refused to work and engaging in industrial action on the following days, that is to say, July 7th 2014 and July 8th 2014 and as stated in the said affidavit;

(b) that Purdy Babwah, a member of the public service, a public officer, at the Immigration Department/Division who failed and/or refused to work on the days stated in the said affidavit of Mr. Downes be committed to Prison for breaching and/or disobeying the aforesaid Order of the Honourable Court dated and entered the 3rd day of July, 2014 by signing the attendance register and leaving her place of work at the Immigration Department/Division and failing and/or refusing to work and engaging in industrial action on the days stated in the said affidavit;

(c) that the Public Services Association acting through its President as aforesaid be found guilty of contempt of Court for breaches of the said Order of this Honourable Court.

(Come back to this story for updates)
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