Sat | Aug 15, 2020

Privy Council's ruling gives fillip to another retired UWI lecturer who says his situation is identical to former colleague's

Published:Friday | June 12, 2015 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue

The landmark ruling by the United Kingdom-based Privy Council last week in favour of retired lecturer Dr Anthony Boufoy-Bastick against the University of the West Indies (UWI) has given a fillip to other former lecturers, including well-known psychiatrist Professor Frederick Hickling.

In its ruling, the Privy Council held that the UWI was wrong to deny Boufoy-Bastick his supplementary pension because he retired 36 days short of 10 years of continuous service.

Hickling has been denied his supplementary pension because he was 31 days short of the 10 years of continuous service.

"It's exactly the same. My contract with the university started in 2000 on the first of September. I deliberately started at the beginning of September because I had to finish up working in the United Kingdom, but I could have come from the first of August if they had indicated to me that this was the rule," Hickling told The Sunday Gleaner two days after the Privy Council handed down its ruling.

He said it came as a shock when, nine months before he retired, he filed his paperwork after what he believed was 10 years of service and was told that his commencement date made him 31 days short of 10 years.

"Someone indicated to me that I fell into this category, and there were a few others. I offered to work the extra days. I asked them, 'Why don't you allow me to work until September to fulfil the requirement', and they said it was not legally possible. I said, 'Why didn't you tell me so that I could begin working from the beginning of August'," charged Hickling.

Unlike Boufoy-Bastic, Hickling chose not to press the matter in court.

"I decided that I was not going to make a fight out of it. I am not interested in fighting with UWI. I am not interested in fighting anyone in this country, and there are many I could fight with," said Hickling as he declared that this decision was not one of weakness.


Serving my country


"When they came to ask me to go to England to help them to deal with the problems of African, Caribbean mental health, mental illness in Britain, I said sure. I left my home, my practice and went to work there. And the UWI came to England to recruit me from there, and I said this is Jamaica, this is my country.

"I was a consultant psychiatrist in North Birmingham, a mental health job. I could have remained there for the rest of my life, and I would not have a problem getting a pension," said the psychiatrist of international acclaim.

"But I came back to serve my country, and I know that I worked as hard as I could, and I did some good work for the university. I have trained 1,000 doctors in 10 years," added Hickling.

During his tenure at the UWI, Hickling headed the Department of Psychiatry and the Bellevue Hospital, and is renown for using music to treat mental illness.

Since last week's Privy Council ruling, Hickling has started to press to get the money due to him.

"I wrote to them. I wrote to my colleagues - the principal (Professor Archie McDonald); the vice-chancellor (Hilary Beckles); the registrar (Dr Camile Bell-Hutchinson) - and said, 'hey, you all know my case because we have exchanged a number of letters, we have had long discussions, spoken a number of words, and I say how can you do this'.

But I made it clear that I am not going to fight them. Well, the Privy Council has ruled," declared Hickling as he indicated that he should be paid about five years of salary.