Court reporters continue industrial action
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: Oct 02, 2013
Industrial action continued for a third day among stenographers upset over late payment and the lack of a career path.
The action has forced some courts to revert to taking notes by hand, while others have adjourned because there were no reporters.
Ludell Eneas-Theophilus, the principal in LET Consultancy, for whom 22 of 40 stenographers work, told The Guardian yesterday that she was not to blame for the pay issues.
Nineteen of those reporters work in New Providence and the other three work in Grand Bahama. According to Theophilus, the stenographers in Grand Bahama reported to work.
Theophilus said according to the terms of her contract, her reporters are supposed to be paid on the same day as civil servants.
However, she said since June she has not been paid on time, resulting in a delay in payment of her workers.
Theophilus said she has had to make personal arrangements with her bank to ensure that her reporters are paid.
She said she could not wait on the government to pay her because she knew her staff had financial obligations to meet.
Theophilus said she still has not received the check owed for September, but she personally ensured that her employees were paid by 1 p.m. on Friday.
Theophilus said she has not received a commitment from the government that the check will be released on time so that she can meet her contractual obligation to the reporters.
Theophilus said nine of her stenographers reported for duty on Friday but refused to go in court.
The reporters called in sick on Monday and were joined by stenographers who work for the government. The civil servants are upset over the lack of a career path.
The Guardian understands that 11 LET reporters called in sick on Monday and 10 court reporters employed directly by the civil service called in sick.
On Tuesday, 10 LET reporters reported sick and nine employed by the civil service did not report to work.
Theophilus said the reporters work hard and often have to take work home to remain current with the production of transcripts.
She said the government has failed to provide the reporters with the necessary tools to produce work efficiently and they often buy their own laptops and machines.
She said reporters are in court three to four days a week and the government has failed to adequately staff the unit.
Theophilus said there have been increases in the number of courts but there has not been a commensurate increase in the number of reporters.
She said, “These are human beings. They work hard. What are we supposed to do? Work 24/7 or 25/8?”
Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson did not respond to a request for comment up to press time.