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The Full Court, presided over by Justices Navindra Singh and Gino Persaud, dismissed the appeal filed by the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) to overturn Justice Franklyn Holder’s May 13, 2022 ruling that the poll held by Trade Union Recognition and Certification Board (TUR&CB) on December 11, 2020 was ultra vires, null, void and of no effect.
GAWU was represented by attorney-at-law, Ms. Pauline Chase, and the appellant, the Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers (AAWU) and its General Secretary, Mr. Leroy Levans, were represented by attorney-at-law, Mr. Roysdale Forde SC
The TUR&CB supposedly held the poll to determine whether workers at the state-owned MARDS Rice Milling Complex, Burma Facility, presently represented by UAAW, want GAWU to be their new union of choice. The poll was held, by the Board, on the presumption Section 21- i.e. the ‘Determination of recognised majority union where two or more unions are involved’ of the Trade Union Recognition Act (98:07)- was being activated.
According to Section 21 (3) of the Act, “Provided that where a certified union is being challenged and the challenging union satisfies the Board, by means of a survey, that the support of the challenging union among the workers in the unit is not less than 40 per cent, the Board shall cause a poll to be taken, but the certificate of recognition of the challenged union shall not be cancelled where the challenging union fails to obtain a majority of less than forty per cent amongst the workers on the unit.”
Justice Holder in his May 2022 ruling did find such a survey was not conducted pursuant to the Law and quashed the poll. Dissatisfied with the ruling, GAWU filed an appeal.
However, before the Full Court heard the appeal of the 13th May ruling, the TUR&CB attempted to do a poll at the facility. In response, AAWU approached the court for a stay pending the appeal. The High Court on Thursday, August 11, 2022 ruled the new poll, authorised by the TUR&CB, be suspended until determination of the appeal.
On Wednesday, the Full Court upheld the May 13, 2022 ruling the poll held by the TUR&CB on December 11, 2020 was ultra vires, null, void and of no effect. The Full Court further ruled the May 13th decision was accepted by the TUR&CB and GAWU had no right to appeal.
In an invited comment on the ruling, Forde said the law has prevailed and the TUR&CB illegality in favour of GAWU was rightfully dismissed. Further, he said, upholding the law that AAWU is the current lawful representative of workers at Burma is evidence that GAWU’s association and affinity to the governing People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) affords the union no exemption from the law.