A DAY before the self-imposed deadline for the submission of a new opinion from the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) regarding the proposed public-sector pension reform, the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) says the handling of the request for legal advice from the department has created a serious credibility issue.
BITU President Senator Kavan Gayle yesterday echoed a recommendation from member of the Joint Select Committee on Public Sector Pension Reform, Arthur Williams, that a declaration should be sought from the Supreme Court on the issue.
An opinion from the AGC to the parliamentary committee on proposed reforms to the public-sector pension scheme two weeks ago triggered an intense public debate.
The advice, which was withdrawn a week later by Attorney General Patrick Atkinson, stated that the recommendations in the Green Paper on public-sector pension reform were unconstitutional and would violate the terms of the contract between the Government and its employees.
AG UNAWARE OF OPINION
Atkinson told the committee in Parliament that he had no knowledge of the legal opinion submitted by his office until it was aired in a newscast the following day.
In a media release, the BITU president argued that the issue raised serious concerns among workers and their trade unions, which previously accepted the AGC's advice as sacred, as it relates to the interpretation of laws and regulations on labour matters.
The BITU also raised serious concerns about the processes in the AGC, questioning how "such an important legal opinion was sent to the financial secretary ... without being vetted by the attorney general or the solicitor general".
Quizzed last week about how the legal opinion could have been sent to the committee without the attorney general first vetting the document, Atkinson said it was an "aberration".
Atkinson pledged that the new opinion from his department, which would be submitted to the parliamentary committee before the end of this week, would be signed by him.