The Government of the Virgin Islands has reportedly been sued over the non-functioning Labour Arbitration Tribunal, which has been without a Chairperson since July 2022.
One lawyer speaking to Virgin Islands News Online (VINO), on condition of anonymity, said a number of persons brought lawsuits against the Government over the matter as it has violated their rights to seek justice.
The lawyer familiar with the matter described the situation as ‘untenable’ given persons cannot take matters before the tribunal. The attorney added that the matter is like having a court without a judge, where persons cannot get a hearing.
VINO on March 16, 2023, reported that a
vacancy notice for a Chairperson of the Tribunal was posted by the
Ministry for Natural Resources and Labour on March 14, 2023, on the
website of Government Information Service (GIS) which indicated that the
post was still vacant.
No hearings since July 2022
The lawyer further pointed out that the last time there was a hearing at the tribunal was since July 2022 and that reportedly was for matters relating to case management. "Can you imagine the amount of cases that are currently stuck?" they questioned.
VINO on March 16, 2023, reported that a vacancy notice for a Chairperson of the Tribunal was posted by the Ministry for Natural Resources and Labour on March 14, 2023, on the website of Government Information Service (GIS) which indicated that the post was still vacant.
Former Chairman and attorney Jamal S. Smith, appearing on Talking Points on ZBVI 780 AM on November 7, 2022, confirmed that since July 31, 2022, there have been no matters put before the tribunal, given the absence of a Chairman.
Mr Smith, who was first appointed chairperson of the tribunal on August 1, 2020, for a period of two years, lamented that the absence of a chairman has left persons with matters in a hostage situation for the last several months given his tenure ended in July of 2022.
Subject Minister, Hon Melvin M. Turnbull (R2) on December 2, 2022, had said that a new Chairman would be in place by January 2023; however, those plans have not materialised.
Efforts to get a comment from Hon Turnbull were futile up to the time of publication.