By Aaron Humes: The Supreme Court today began hearing a case that could have impact on the employment of so-called “open vote workers”, those who do work for Government, but not under formal contract.
The official definition, according to the Government (Open Vote) Workers Regulations (1992), Statutory Instrument No. 145 of 1992, is, quote, an employee of any Government Department whose post is not provided for under any personal emoluments item of any Head of Expenditure in the Estimates, that is, the Annual Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure commonly known as the Budget.
Former Ministry of Education employee Melissa Belezaire Tucker, the claimant, was employed for 17 years from 1995 to 2013, when she was terminated from the Public Service. She says that she was not able to present her defense on her termination to the Executive, and has turned to the Judiciary instead.
There are two separate claims being tried together: a judicial review of the termination, for which leave was granted in 2014; and a challenge to the Regulations themselves, which Tucker and her attorney Senior Counsel Magali Marin-Young believe violate the Constitution, as then-Governor General Dame Minita Gordon under Section 106 (3) was not empowered to enact a law that creates a wholly separate cadre of employment to that created under Section 106 of the Constitution.
The trial is taking place before Madam Justice Shona Griffith, with the Attorney General represented by Deputy Solicitor General Nigel Hawke. Testimony is being taken from persons working in the public sector who are familiar with Tucker. Tucker and her attorney say they will speak at the conclusion of the hearing, which continues into next week.