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Dec 7, 2017

Workers’ Trust Defends Actions after Court Case

Philip Castillo

The Public Sector Workers’ Trust, established in 2014, has been a source of controversy in the trade union community. Three retired public officers who say they represent many others sued the Public Service Union, Belize National Teacher’s Union, The Minister of Finance and the Attorney General, as well as five established trustees of the Trust, two of whom are still in charge – Nadia Caliz of the B.N.T.U. and Dr. Philip Castillo. Judgment handed down in March of this year by Supreme Court Justice Courtney Abel found that certain changes were needed to the structure of the Trust Deed first executed in 2013, but that a loan scheme established by the Trust as an “investment” of the eight-million plus in funds based on shares in Belize Telemedia Limited was acceptable. But the claimants went back to court last week asking for an injunction to stop the loan scheme from going ahead and hamstring the current trustees’ work, as far as substituting new ones. Trust Attorney Anthony Sylvestre and trustee Castillo say they didn’t get what they wanted.

 

Dr. Philip Castillo, Trustee, Public Service Workers’ Trust

“What we regard as a significant victory, is that at the time the beneficiaries wanted money – in fact, some people still want money; there is still the misconception out there that the purpose of the Trust is to give money to people – that is simply not so. The purpose of the Trust is to undertake projects, and that was reiterated in the first court case. Now the beneficiaries took us to court again, because what the court also ordered was that an accounting of all the money that the Trust spent, that that be done. Now we regard this second court case as a victory, because what the beneficiaries wanted was for the trustees to pay back the money – I think Channel Seven is guilty of saying that several times; that is misinformation. The judgment is not for the trustees to pay back any monies; the judgment is for the trustees to give an account of all monies that have been spent.”

 

Anthony Sylvestre

Anthony Sylvestre, Attorney, Public Service Workers’ Trust

“The claimants, in their latest round of court proceedings, were actually asking the court to do two significant things. Essentially, shut down the Trust – that is to say, stop the de facto trustees, the current trustees from being able to apply any funds from the Trust, and that was not ordered by the court. And secondly, they were actually asking the court to substitute the present trustees, to have them [the beneficiaries] appoint the trustees in the interim. So essentially they were asking the court to shut down the operations of the Trust and to have them, in the interim, regulate and manage the Trust, and none of those orders were granted by the court.”

 

Senior Counsel Magali Marin-Young represented the claimants and Crown Counsel Samantha Matute- Tucker represented the government in the current round of the case.

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