The ruling on Tuesday by high court judge, Justice Raulston Glasgow will most likely bring an end to the contentious issue between government and public sector unions on the pension scheme that should apply to civil servants with a letter of appointment from the Public Service Commission (PSC).
THE NEW TODAY cannot anticipate the current administration of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell filing an appeal against the ruling in light of pronouncements made before by the Court of Appeal on the very subject matter.
This case should never have been allowed to reach the court because the first New National Party (NNP) government of the late H.A Blaize should have made good with civil servants when he enacted a Pension law in Parliament to benefit politicians who served only two terms in government.
There could be no justification for civil servants to work up to 26 years and more in some cases and go home with pittance while politicians who served for eight years to be rewarded handsomely for their service.
It was wrong to make provisions for this kind of payment to the Political Directorate and to refuse to address the thorny issue of the Constitutional Pension for public officers which became a bone of contention due to the actions of the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop.
As Justice Glasgow rightly ruled, the creation of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) by the revolutionary leaders after the suspension of the Constitution could not be considered as the correct mechanism to pay a pension to public officers who were put at a disadvantage because of the Pension Disqualification act.
Our longest serving Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell had ample time in office to bring the pension issue to a satisfactory conclusion years ago but instead chose to play cheap political games with the heads of public officers for political gains at election time.
This week’s high court ruling has now put the public sector unions in poll position in the negotiations that will have to take place in coming up with a formula for payment of pension to thousands of public officers including those who died years ago but left an estate behind that can rightfully lay claims to the financial benefits for their loved ones.
The unions cannot afford to drop the ball in an election year in which the Prime Minister as a consummate politician has served notice that he is going after a historic treble of three straight 15-0 wins in the next election against the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
It is imperative for the unions to assemble the best team of negotiators to face up to the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) in light of the ruling handed down in their favour in recent days by the high court.
THE NEW TODAY would like to see two members of the legal team who appeared before the judge in the matter to be included, especially former Attorney General, Cajeton Hood who is most equipped and qualified to understand the working of the public service since he served for many years as a Permanent Secretary.
Public servants should not chance anything with this NNP regime and rather be mindful that promises in an election year are nothing more than a comfort to a fool.
The unions are now in the driving seat and should demand of both NNP and NDC to indicate how they intend to address the millions in payments now due to their present and former members with possible regime change in mind.
The priority has to be a realistic payment plan that would not put any public officer at a disadvantage in light of their already advanced age.
THE NEW TODAY would like to recognise the bold decision taken by the former PWU President, Rachael Roberts and the team who worked along with her to take the matter to court and bring home this historic and landmark victory for their membership.
The Raulston Glasgow ruling on Pension for public officers has assured Ms. Roberts of her legacy in PWU and trade unionism in Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.
Many of her predecessor Presidents in the union for reasons best known to them did not seemingly have the courage and confidence or lacked the commitment to engage in a long-drawn out fight with government in a court of law to bring finality to this pension matter years ago.
The ruling also debunked the claim being made by Prime Minister Mitchell and his NNP regime that under their watch in government that pension had been restored.
What the Prime Minister attempted to do was to reach an agreement with the unions on a new pension plan with a new formula for payment that was outside of the one provided for in the Constitution.
It is sad that some union leaders, especially those in the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) and the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) fell for the bait and on the eve of the 2018 general election signed a so-called Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Pension Restoration with the government of the day.
This was a clear betrayal of the cause of the workers in the public service as no new pension plan would worth the paper on which it is written once it makes provisions for the beneficiaries to receive less money than what was provided for in the existing pension scheme that is still recognised by the constitution.
Justice Glasgow has now ensured that public workers in the country can always look forward to a brighter day at the end of service to the State.
Future governments should also learn from this ruling and ensure that the public service employs quality persons and not the hiring of party hacks so that the taxpayers of this country can get value for their money at the end of the day.
THE NEW TODAY holds strongly to the view that never again should any of our political leaders be allowed to play games with the constitution in a partisan way to define their legacy