NATION

Tribunal Gives Woman Church Minister Leave To Amend Her Notice Of Motion

The Employment Rela­tions Tribunal has granted leave to an ordained Methodist Church woman minister Viva Pan­apasa Simote to amend her notice of motion in her law­suit against the church. Magistrate
17 Aug 2018 10:00
Tribunal Gives Woman Church Minister Leave To Amend Her Notice Of Motion
Viva Panapasa Simote. Photo: Ronald Kumar

The Employment Rela­tions Tribunal has granted leave to an ordained Methodist Church woman minister Viva Pan­apasa Simote to amend her notice of motion in her law­suit against the church.

Magistrate Andrew See gave Ms Simote leave to substitute the name of the “Methodist Church of Fiji” and replace it with the “Trustees of the Republic of Fiji of the Methodist Church in Fiji.”

The matter has been relist­ed for conference of the parties at a time and place to be notified by the court registry.

On March 23, 2018, Ms Si­mote commenced proceed­ings against the Methodist Church.

She sought orders and relief that the tribunal ac­knowledge that there is a legitimate employment grievance on foot in relation to her non-appointment for one year without pay.

Further, the tribunal re­quired the church to cease and desist from attempting to evict her from her resi­dential quarters at least un­til such time her grievance has been resolved.

In an affidavit in support of her notice of motion, Ms Simote attested that she had been accepted into the cler­gy as a minister on or about August 1995.

On or around January 2015 she was posted to minister at the Dudley Circuit and was paid a monthly wage and had monies paid by the church into her Fiji Nation­al Provident Fund account.

On December 18, 2017, she was advised that she had been relieved of her ap­pointment in the Dudley Circuit and given one year without appointment for her to reflect on her obedi­ence to the call of ordained ministry.

On January 29, 2018, Ms Simote lodged an employ­ment grievance with the mediation service alleging that she had been unfairly terminated.

A mediation activity com­menced under the auspices of the mediation service on February 22, 2018, after which time the process was adjourned to give parties the opportunity to explore means of resolving the grievance.

On or around March 20, 2018, Ms Simote was issued an eviction notice on behalf of the “Trustees of the Re­public of Fiji for the Meth­odist Church in Fiji”.

In an interlocutory deci­sion delivered on Monday, Magistrate See was of the view that the church’s at­tempt, through its lawyer Simione Valenitabua, to withdraw the case because of a defect in the named party to the proceeding was disingenuous.

He said it was an attempt by the church to prevent having the issues pertain­ing to Ms Simote be dealt with in an expeditious and fair manner.

While allowing the amend­ment to be made, Magis­trate See said the correction would allow the tribunal to examine in detail the mo­tion dealing with Ms Si­mote’s termination and the church’s efforts to have her evicted from the residence that she calls her home.

Ms Simote is represented by Edward Batiweti and Noel Tofinga, who are argu­ing her case without charge (Pro Bono).

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj



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