Categorized | National News

Hotel Union Execs Appeal CJ’s Ruling

Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) executives have filed an appeal to overturn a recent ruling by Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett ordering union elections to take place by the end of the month, the Journal has learnt.

In court papers filed Tuesday, BHCAWU President Nicole Martin and 11 other union executives are named as the appellants.

The current union executive team is appealing the January 18 ruling by Sir Michael who determined among other things that Ms. Martin and the executive council’s three-year term in office expired in May 2012; that elections should have occurred at that time and that new elections be held by no later than February 28, 2013.

Though elected in May 2009, the executive council’s victory was not certified until April of the following year.

In a letter written by attorney Harvey Tynes who represents the appellants and sent to Indira Francis, registrar at the Court of Appeal, it states that the chief justice’s decision may have retroactively impeded the council’s ability to conduct the affairs of the union after May 31, 2012.

“As a result, doubts have arisen as to whether the twelve appellants now have authority to manage the affairs of the union in light of the chief justice’s declaration that their term in office expired some eight months ago,” the letter stated.

“Specifically, the union’s banker, Bank of The Bahamas has shown reluctance to honour cheques signed by Darrin Woods, the general secretary, Hubert Saunders, treasurer and Bertram Williams, trustee.”

The letter also noted that the union which currently employs more than 80 people at its two administrative offices in Nassau and Freeport is required to pay salaries, sick benefits and other claims on a weekly basis.

However, Dave Beckford, who filed a lawsuit against the executive council seeking clarity about the council’s term in office, said Ms. Martin and the executives are simply trying to buy time.

Mr. Beckford, who is running for president in the upcoming elections, said he finds it curious that Ms. Martin, who after last month’s ruling said she would honour the chief justice’s decision, has decided now to appeal the ruling.

“The president of the union said that she would not appeal the ruling by the chief justice and now she is backtracking on what she said,” Mr. Beckford said. “She says one thing and does the next…you cannot believe anything this administration says. She is seeking to delay this election.

“If Ms. Martin would have done what she was supposed to do according to the constitution, she wouldn’t have to worry about appealing this matter before the courts,” said Tyrone Knowles, another candidate vying for the union top post. “As a president, your responsibility is to make sure that the constitution is being carried out and that things are being done in the best interest of the union and not special interest.”

The BHCAWU held its nominations last Tuesday and election of officers is scheduled for February 26.

The Journal made several calls to Ms. Martin and union general secretary Darrin Woods, but those calls were not returned.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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