Tongan court dismisses PSA application to defer government new salary structures

Tonga’s Supreme Court has rejected PSA’s application to restrain the government from implementing its new salary structures for the public service.

The new salary structures were recommended in Remuneration Authority reports of June 2014 and September 2015 and which it was said had been approved by Cabinet on 8 July 2016.

However, Lord Chief Justice Owen Paulsen said: “The pleadings are defective; The issues raised are not justiciable; There is no arguable ground advanced for review”.

“The most significant defect in the statement of claim in my view is that it does not clearly state what decisions are being challenged, the content of those decisions or the grounds upon which the challenge to those decisions is being advanced”, Mr Owen said.

PSA claimed the implementation of new salary structures approved by Cabinet on 8 July 2016 was a breach of a memorandum of understanding of 3 September 2005 between a Cabinet subcommittee on behalf of the Government of Tonga and a negotiation team of the Interim Committee of Civil Servants.

But Mr Owen said this argument has a problem.

He said Clause 7 says only that the 2005 salary review will be deferred for two years.

“It says nothing about future consultation on reviews of salary structures.

“Secondly, the memorandum is a political document which expressed a convergence of will of the parties but could not have been intended to create legally binding obligations”.

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