By Zena Henry
AFTER being out of operation for more than two decades, the Guyana Public Service Appellate Tribunal was restored when a three-member team headed by retired Judge,Nandram Kissoon was sworn in at State House on Wednesday.
The other members of the tribunal are Attorney Abiola Wong-Inniss and Winston Brown.
They took the Oath of Office before Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Minister of State,Joseph Harmon, Permanent Secretary of the Department of the Public Service,Reginald Brotherson and heads of several service commissions.
The tribunal is the body designated to hear the concerns of public workers seeking redress against decisions made by the Public Service Commission (PSC).
President Granger said the Public Service Appellate Tribunal Act of 1984 empowers the tribunal to hear public servants concerns regarding the PSC.
These include promotions, dismissals and other disciplinary action.
The power vested in the tribunal is similar to that of High Court Judge, and gives the body the right to summon witnesses and make requests for documents and other pieces of evidence.
The Constitution provides for the establishment of the tribunal, which the President said is essential to the system of public administration.
It will provide a mechanism for professionalism and fairness in respect to promotion and disciplinary action, Mr Granger said as he bemoaned the inactiveness of the tribunal for more than two decades.
“The Public Service Appellate Tribunal, regrettably, has been inactive for more than two decades. This neglect has led to irregularities and inconsistencies in the Public Service. The tribunal’s absence injured the interests of persons who felt wronged by unfair dismissals, the denial of benefits, or other disciplinary actions but who had no redress. The Public Service Appellate Tribunal today stands re-convened,” the President declared.
Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) President,Patrick Yarde, who was also in attendance, expressed delight in the restoration of the tribunal.
He said representation for amendment of the Constitution for the Appellate Tribunal was made by the GPSU to then President,Forbes Burnham.
Yarde said the former President was receptive to the idea and amended the Constitution to suit same,since the GPSU’s case was that everyone should have the scope for redress and representation.
“We are extremely disappointed that it (Tribunal) was not filled for such a long time. It was clearly an act,as far as I’m concerned, of wickedness by the previous government, denying public servants access to redress,” the veteran trade union said.
Yarde said there are numerous public servant matters before the High Court, while other public workers who wanted redress based on PSC decisions, never engaged the court because of the high cost associated with a case.
He hopes public servants will now use this avenue to seek redress.
When asked about current matters engaging the court, Tribunal Chair Kissoon said the tribunal does not have the power to take over any matter currently engaging the court as the body only addresses matters before it.
The Public Service Appellate Tribunal has not been activated since 1995.