Attorney General seeks more time from High Court to respond to GTU’s case against Government

Attorney General seeks more time from High Court to respond to GTU’s case against Government

The Government, through the Attorney General’s Chambers, has asked the High Court to push back the date for the hearing of a case brought by the Guyana Teachers’ Union, challenging the decision of the Government to cut the salaries of striking teachers. 

The case, which also challenges the Government’s decision to discontinue the deduction of union dues from the salaries of teachers, is expected to be heard in the High Court on Thursday, February 22.

However, in an application filed on Tuesday, the Attorney General, Anil Nandlall has asked for an extension. 

According to the application seen by News Source, the Attorney General, through a battery of lawyers, is seeking an order from the High Court for an extension time of 14 days from the date of the hearing of the application, so as to file an Affidavit in answer to the union’s application.

The Attorney General, in his application, said he received notice from Justice Sandil Kissoon’s Registrar that the Union’s application would be heard on Thursday, February 22 from 13:30hrs. 

However, he stated that the Affidavit in support of the Union’s application, signed by Mr Julian Cambridge, includes several allegations involving both entities and officials of the State, and it is therefore important for him to consult with them before filing an Affidavit in Answer. 

It was noted too that the Union’s application entails 21 pages of pleadings, and approximately 29 pages of exhibits, including correspondence to and or from several officers of the State, as well as correspondences sent to the Office of the President. 

Among those to be consulted are officials from the Office of the President, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Local Government, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Finance. 

“In the circumstances, it is impracticable for the Applicant/Respondent to consult with all the relevant State entities, take instructions, and draft and file an Affidavit in Answer by the time set by this Honourable Court for the hearing of the Urgent Notice of Application,” the Attorney General said as he laid down the grounds for his application.   

The Attorney General said GTU’s application raises numerous issues of fact, and complex legal issues of law, and public importance, which require mature and robust considerations. 

He said as the legal representative of the State, he requires adequate time to prepare an Affidavit in answer that would accurately, and comprehensively address all issues raised in the union’s application. 

The Attorney General’s legal team includes the Assistant Solicitor General, Shoshanna V. Lall, Senior Legal Advisor, Chevy Devonish, and State Counsel Candiacia Lewis. 

Meanwhile, GTU, in his application, filed by Attorney Darren Wade, said that it has exhausted its efforts to get the Government to negotiate a salaries package for the nation’s teachers. The GTU said since it submitted its proposals in 2020, there has been no real movement by the Government to sit with the union and finalize an agreement on salary increases and non-salary benefits.

The union, in its application, explained that it has repeatedly written to the Government, through the President’s Office and the Ministry of Education, seeking discussions on salary increases. Many of its requests for meetings were left unanswered.

The union wants the Court to declare that the ongoing strike action is not illegal and that it followed all legal requirements and avenues before resorting to the strike action.

The GTU contends that the Government has been acting in bad faith, and continues to act in bad faith by its decision to not only cut the salaries of striking teachers, but its decision to also remove itself as an agent for the GTU in the deduction of union fees from the salaries of teachers.

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