Jennifer Baptiste-Primus. –
ATTORNEYS for the Public Services Association (PSA) will return to court today to indicate its position on a lawsuit filed by its former president Jennifer Baptiste-Primus for failing to increase her pension.
The matter came up for hearing on Monday before Justice Frank Seepersad, who agreed to give the PSA an opportunity to finalise its position.
The judge first has to determine whether the application before him was properly framed to invoke the court’s jurisdiction to revisit the consent order entered by both parties in 2011.
Under the terms of the order, the PSA agreed Baptiste-Primus should receive a monthly pension from December 2012.
It also agreed she would be entitled to a pension increase every three years, which was to be calculated as an amount equal to or at least two-thirds of the pension of the office-holder at the time the increase is being considered, or based on the highest percentage salary increase negotiated by the union for its members during the period, whichever was greater.
In her affidavit attached to the claim, Baptiste-Primus said the last time she received an increase was in December 2015, when her pension was increased from $15,488.35 to $17,656.61.
In her lawsuit filed last month, Baptiste-Primus, who served as Labour Minister between 2015 and 2020, said she was forced to take the union court over her pension almost a year after she retired in 2009.
She claimed that in February 2019, she received a letter from former PSA president Watson Duke, who said the increase was not possible.
“It is with much disappointment that I am now constrained to approach this court again in order to compel the defendants to honour their contractual commitments under the consent order and obligations under the law,” she said.
When the case came up for hearing before Seepersad last month, he questioned whether the consent order could be varied, as it expressly provided a process to determine whether her pension could be increased.
The PSA was represented by Senior Counsel John Heath, Sheldon Mycoo and Lionel Luckhoo. Merle Jennifer Dennis represents Baptiste-Primus.