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Thomas-Felix: Social media has effect on court

Published: 
Sunday, May 20, 2018
Deborah Thomas-Felix

Industrial Court president Deborah Thomas-Felix says social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have an impact on the court.

She was delivering welcome remarks at the Industrial Court’s sixth “Meet With The Court” symposium at Regimental Headquarters, Garden Road, Aranguez, yesterday.

Thomas-Felix inquired of the audience “You may ask, what is the link to social media and the court?

“I posit that the advent of new communication technologies that have fundamentally transformed the way we live, play, and work has also signalled a new era for industrial relations.

“Perhaps one of the most transformative impacts is how social media has amplified the right to be heard, creating new avenues fro expression not only for workers, but for all social partners.”

She said whether it was with respect to the use of social media by employees, addressing issues related to employment, disciplinary action or dismissal based on employees’ social media activities, exploring the evolution of labour law to address how social partners might address social media policies, or how the court might better utilise social media in meeting its mandate, it was clear that it was not short of issues to discuss.

In his presentation on Social Media and the Contract of Employment UWI Barbados lecturer Jefferson Cumberbatch said public employers such as the State face unique constitutional issues where their employees use social media to voice their grievances or concerns.

He said the Constitution in various countries guaranteed freedom of expression but it may also be limited in respect of public officers or public servants.

Regarding T&T’s public servants, Cumberbatch cited T&T Civil Service Regulations, Chap. 23:01 139 (1) An officer shall not respond to questions of public policy, in a manner that could reasonably be construed as criticism and which may call into question his ability to impartially implement, administer or advise on Government policy and sub-regulation(1)shall not apply to an officer acting in his capacity as a representative of a recognised association.

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