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posted 16 Sept 2013, 11:44 by Gerry Kangalee
Twenty five trade unionists from eight unions participated in an intensive two-day interactive seminar and workshop at the headquarters of the Transport and Industrial Workers Union, Laventille on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 September 2013. 

The course titled “FROM THE WORKPLACE TO THE INDUSTRIAL COURT’ was conducted by the Labour Advisory Bureau (LAB), the research, training and publishing arm of the National Workers Union (NWU). Participants examined actual court disputes, judgements, and the various legislations governing industrial relations and also participated in role-playing of actual court cases.

The course’s intention is to prepare union practitioners to adopt a working class perspective in industrial relations and to improve their level of efficiency when defending workers at the industrial court. Due to several new legalistic changes in the court’s procedures, the LAB believes it is important for union advocates to not only match the employers representatives (with their high class legal advocates and well trained executives) but to be better worker representatives at the important function of defending the economic interests and jobs of workers.

The LAB while recognising that the Industrial Court was established as an instrument to curb the united power of workers and is a product of class legislation, recognises that many of the industrial relations disputes remain unresolved at the earlier stages and eventually end up at the court. Hence its importance to workers and therefore the need for unions to produce high quality advocates with improved technical skills if we are to advance their living standards and deliver the protection workers need from harsh and oppressive measures of the employer class. 

The first day course dealt with: 
1. The ISA and IRA legislation and the Political and Historical Perspective in the establishment of the Court,

2. Overview of the Legal Framework,

3. The Starting Point of Disputes (RMU/non-RMU),

4. Reporting a Trade dispute,

5. Disputes that can be reported directly to the Court,

6. Disputes relating to Public Servants and Protective Service Workers,

7. Pre-trial Hearing/Mention and Report/Case Management

8. Evidence and Arguments 

On the second day the participants, presenters and facilitators studied and discussed: 

1. Remedies for varying types of disputes,

2. The definition of “Constructive Dismissal”,

3. Witness Statements,

4. In Court – first day issues,

5. Examination in Chief,

6. Cross examination,

7. Re-examination,

8. Role play of Actual Court Cases,

9. Closing Statements to the Court’s Tribunal,

10. Judgments and Appeals,

11. Enforcement of the Court’s judgement, 

At the end of the course, participants gave both written and verbal feedback to the presenters and facilitators many of whom have practised industrial relations for over thirty years at the industrial court, bi-lateral level and conciliation at the Ministry of Labour. Participants were then presented with certificates from the Labour Advisory Bureau. Special thanks are in order to Industrial Court Judge Gregory Rousseau for his contribution to making the seminar a great success. 

The Labour Advisory Bureau (LAB) will continue to conduct various courses for labour relations practitioners in Grievance Handling and Procedure, Pension Plans, The Social Wage Policy, Collective Bargaining and others necessary to improve the technical skills of trade unionists.