High Court Judge, Justice Brian Cottle has ruled to strike out “as entirely hopeless”, a case involving three teachers who were not re-employed after resigning to contest the December 2010 general elections.
The teachers, Elvis Daniel, Addison Thomas, and Kenroy Johnson, had applied in December 2010 to the Public Service Commission for Election Leave in accordance with Article 16 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement the government signed with the Teachers Union in 2005.
The union has argued that the agreement permits any teacher, who has been a member for more than two years, to seek six months leave to contest national elections and, if they lose, to return to their teaching post by the beginning of the following term, with all their benefits intact.
But the government has said that the clause was “aspirational” and contravenes Section 6 of the Constitution, which states that public employees cannot contest elections.
Justice Cottle in handing down his judgement on February 10th, said when he consider all the competing arguments as well as his understanding of the governing legal principles, he is driven to the conclusion that the claimants cannot succeed.
The Judge said it may well be that the present constitutional provisions are too restrictive and some provision along the lines of that set out in Article 16 of the agreement if desirable,…but that is a matter for constitutional reform and not for the court.