Charles Ramson Sr sues Nagamootoo for withholding salary
Commissioner of Information, Charles Ramson Sr, has filed legal action against his boss, Prime Minister and Information Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Attorney General Basil Williams. Among Ramson’s contentions are that his salary for last month was withheld.
Ramson Sr, whose suit was filed for him by his Attorneys Ashton and Pauline Chase on Thursday, is seeking a declaration that his fundamental right to work was violated by the respondents. He is also seeking an order for the respondents to continue to pay his salary, emoluments and allowances “until such time as his appointment is revoked lawfully.”
In addition, he is seeking an order for the Prime Minister, the second named respondent, to provide “such accommodation, resources and officers and employees for the efficient functioning of the office of the Commissioner of Information pursuant to Section 5 of the Access to Information Act 2011.”
Ramson’s writ also includes a request for “exemplary damages against the second named respondent for his unlawful acts and/or the violation of his constitutional right to work”; “any other order as may be just” and finally, cost.
Contending that his right to work has been violated, Ramson – who is a former Attorney General – quoted Article 149A of the Constitution of Guyana in the writ, which states that; “No person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his or her right to work, that is to say, the right to free choice of employment.”
While Attorney General Basil Williams was named a respondent as a representative of the State, Nagamootoo was sued under the State Liability and Proceedings Act 1988. He noted that Nagamootoo is required by law to make provisions for his office to function efficiently.
He stated that post 2015, his accommodation and staff was “degutted in stages”, both unilaterally and by mutual arrangement. He claimed to have relocated to his property for an agreed period of three months which came to an end on December 31, 2015.
“In that event, I continued to report to work routinely, commencing at 07:00h and have always been ready, willing and able to meet the legal responsibilities of my office. Notwithstanding several notices to (Nagamootoo) his statutory obligations were not given effect, refused and neglected and I have since filed proceedings for compensation for use and occupation of my property for January 1st to 31st December, 2016.”
He went on to note that “payment of my salary was made for December 2016, but my gratuity payable half-yearly was unlawfully and without notice, withheld upon the instructions (of Nagamootoo).”
But that’s not all. Ramson is also contending that for January 2017, his salary was also withheld despite “(Nagamootoo) announcing in the National Assembly at the Committee of Supply stage that $36 million was allocated to my office for the period 1st January to 31st December 2017.”
All of these acts, according to Ramson Sr, have affected his fundamental right to work. He also alleged that Nagamootoo has a “lack of comprehension of the Act aforementioned and/or prompted by malice and/or improper legal advice by person’s with whom he associates and/or is politically aligned resulting in loss and damage to me.”
The matter is scheduled to be heard on February 24 at the High Court. It also warned in the action filed that failure by the respondents to appear may see judgment being given in absentia and without further notice. (Guyana Times)