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The High Court on Tuesday dismissed a decade-old case filed by the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) in which government was accused of unlawfully halting the deductions of fees from non-unionized members.The case had been filed in July 2000 against the then Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Public Service Ministry (PSM), Dr. Nanda Gopaul.In his decision, Chief Justice (ag), Ian Chang also ruled that any financial loss that GPSU may have suffered may have been because of its inaction.The former PSM official was awarded $25,000 in costs.Representing GPSU was attorney-at-law Abiola Wong-Inniss while Senior Counsel Ashton Chase represented Gopaul.In its writ, GPSU asked the court to find Gopaul guilty of misfeasance in public office and said that he exercised a public power for an improper purpose with the specific purpose of injuring the union.The union also sought a court declaration that the PS acted recklessly and illegally in instructing the Permanent Secretaries of a number of government ministries and other department heads, not to deduct union fees from employees who are members of the GPSU. The union contended in its writ that Gopaul knew his decisions would cause it irreparable economic loss.1976 agreementGPSU, in its court documents, disclosed that in 1976, it entered an agreement with PSM (which represented government) in which agency fees (the equivalent of union dues but being deducted from non-union members) would be deducted and remitted to the union.In effect, as from March 1, 1976, the agreement mandated new employees in the public service, who did not choose to become members of the GPSU,Wholesale Jerseys Store, be made to pay the agency fees.Under the agreement, 25% of the agency fees collected by GPSU would be allocated to finance workers’ education programme undertaken by the union, the Guyana Trades Union Congress or the Critchlow Labour College,Cheap NFL Jerseys, among others.It was also noted in the decision that in 1987,Jerseys Wholesale, GPSU adopted a new rule which new employees in the public service automatically became members and even if they took the option of not becoming members, union dues would still have to be paid.DecisionIn his analysis of the case, Chief Justice Chang said it was obvious that the source of dispute and difference between the Government of Guyana (GOG) and GPSU lay in the fact that the latter viewed employees joining the public service as being subject to agency fees unless the workers exercised their option of becoming members. The union, on the other hand, was viewing the same employees as members being subjected to dues, unless they had exercised the option of not joining the union.In other words,Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys, employees who had not exercised the option, of whether or not to join GPSU, was the source of the disagreement and contention, the court ruled.“Once the source of the disagreement and confusion was properly identified, the problem was capable of easy resolution. Whether the source of the problem was identified is not known. But, the truth is that the problem remained and confusion festered throughout the years-perhaps to the discredit of both parties.”AuditIn 1999, PSM had written GPSU accusing it of failing to adhere to the 1976 agreement which mandated an annual, audited statement of agencies fees to be submitted. However, GPSU claimed that failure by government to provide accurate monthly returns prevented it from honoring its obligations.In 2000, Gopaul, the new PS, wrote GPSU again giving them a 30-day extension to submit the annual statement. Again,Cheap Jerseys NFL China, the union replied that the non-compliance was as a result of the failure by government to provide its monthly statements.In June 2000, Gopaul informed GPSU that the government would no longer be deducting agency fees and it would only be deducting union fees from workers if they authorized their various department heads to do so.Later that month, department heads were written to by Gopaul advising them not to deduct agency fees or union dues from public servants.The matter was then taken to court by GPSU.Chang, in his decision, said that based on that “calamitous state of affairs in the union’s records and accounts” relating to union dues and agencies fees,Cheap Jerseys From China Outlet, among other things, Gopaul’s decision to terminate the deductions cannot be viewed as an act done unlawfully or in bad faith or with reckless indifference or disregard to the legality of the act.”With regards to accusations by GPSU that government had been submitting inaccurate information about the number of non-union members it had on its payroll, Chang questioned this claim, noting that it was the government itself who was hiring these workers and making the deductions.“The government returns to the GPSU were necessarily the source of the information for the making of the GPSU’s records relating to the non-union employees and agency fees payments.”With respect to the deduction of union dues in particular, the Chief Justice said the government had only been acting as the agent of the union for the purpose of withholding and remitting the monies to the union.“The withdrawal of such agency service by the Government of Guyana did not mean that such dues were not collectible. It merely meant that GPSU was tasked with collecting such union dues itself. As such, unlike the case of the agency fees, if the plaintiff union suffered any financial loss, it was on account of its own inaction.”

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