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Fixers agree to talks with PSA election committee
One of the four slates contesting the Public Service Association’s (PSA) election has agreed to negotiations with the union’s election committee to resolve alleged irregularities in its list of voters.
Lawyers representing the committee and Team Fixers, who last week obtained an injunction stopping last Monday’s election, gave the undertaking when their substantive case came up for hearing before Justice Nadia Kangaloo at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain, yesterday morning. Kangaloo agreed to adjourn the case to Friday, when the parties will return before her to indicate if they reached a compromise.
In an interview afterwards, presidential candidate Solomon Gabriel, head of the slate, said he was happy the issues raised by his team are being resolved.
“The election is flawed and the constitution was breached, that is why we are here today,” he said.
Gabriel said the injunction did not cause an inordinate delay in the elections as the union’s constitution allows for executive elections 90 days before or after the term of the previous executive ended, which was last Monday.
“This injunction is not only about the PSA elections, this is about the union itself. We have 90 days in which we could fix these things,” Gabriel said.
However, incumbent president Watson Duke, who is vying for his third term, said he is concerned by the delay.
“I am troubled by the fact they (the members) did not get the chance to exercise their franchise and am further troubled by the fact that the matter is postponed for another time,” Duke said.
He said until the lawsuit is resolved through mediation or trial before Kangaloo, he will continue to hold the post and serve the union’s members.
“I am comforted by the fact that I continue to carry on the duties of the president and we have some important business next week with the Minister of Finance. I would have liked the strength of a new mandate but the old one is still strong,” he said.
Duke’s view on his ability to continue to serve the membership, was opposed by Oral Saunders of the United Public Officers.
“We are encouraged that some mediation is taking place. The only person who has benefited from this is none other than the incumbent, but he has absolutely no mandate to speak,” he said.
Nixon Callender, of Team Sentinel, refused to comment extensively on the lawsuit as he said his slate is merely an interested party. However, he said his team had analysed the list of voters and found no irregularities.
In their lawsuit the group is contending that the list of voters is fundamentally flawed due to a decision by the union’s general council on October 5 to allow PSA members with union dues arrears to be allowed to vote if they cleared their arrears before the election. Almost 300 members reportedly made use of the allowance. The PSA has approximately 14,000 members.
The group claims the decision is illegal as the PSA’s constitution only allows members in financial good standing for more than a year to vote.
As a secondary issue, the group is claiming the elections committee acted unfairly as it failed to publish the locations of all polling stations.
In granting the slate an injunction last Friday, Justice Frank Seepersad said it had raised a valid claims which had to be determined before the election is allowed to take place.
The group is being represented by Raisa Caesar while John Heath is representing the elections committee.
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