Court of Appeal rules in favour of pension benefits

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WORKERS of Caribbean Development Company (CDC) and Carib Glassworks Limited (CGL) who retired on medical grounds are entitled to receive payments, in addition to retirement benefits under their pension plans.

This is the effect of a Court of Appeal ruling which dismissed an appeal of the two companies challenging the jurisdiction of the Industrial Court, in a dispute with the National Union for Government and Federated Workers (NUFGW).

Presiding over the appeal were acting Chief Justice Allan Mendonca, and Justices of Appeal Judith Jones and Peter Rajkumar.

Rajkumar, who delivered the ruling, said the referral of the dispute to the Industrial Court required it to interpret the terms of the companies’ collective agreements for 2004-2007 and apply them to determine which term governed the issue of benefits payable on retirement on medical grounds.

He also held that the Industrial Court was properly exercising its jurisdiction to interpret and apply the terms of the agreements nor did it err in law by failing to rectify the agreements.

In its appeal, the companies, which were represented by Senior Counsel Reginald Armour, Vanessa Gopaul and Tamilee Budhu, argued that workers could not, on early retirement on medical grounds, get both severance benefits as well as benefits under the pension plan.

In their 2001-2004 collective agreements, members of the pension plan were entitled to benefits for severance payments for early retirement, retirement on medical grounds and death in service to beneficiaries.

Those provisions were not included in the 2004-2007 agreements, which simply provided that the company and the union had agreed to continue discussions pursuant to a memorandum of agreement executed on July 20, 2004.

Though expired, the terms of the 2004-2007 agreement had been incorporated into the individual contracts of employment of the employees

The Industrial Court had to determine whether or not the benefit for retirement on medical grounds was to be in addition to pension benefits payable to employees on retirement under their pension plan. They ruled that workers were entitled to both.

The Court of Appeal had to decide whether the decision of the court involved an interpretation and application of the collective agreements between the union and the companies.

The union was represented by attorney Michael Bullock.

The post Court of Appeal rules in favour of pension benefits appeared first on Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.

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