Joseph (left) Augustus

A May Day Rally statement made by Kertiste Augustus, Secretary-Treasurer of the Waterfront and Allied Workers Union (WAWU), to the effect that employers are using Hurricane Maria to exploit workers is very unfortunate and has caught the attention of the Dominica Employers’ Federation (DEF).

Executive Director of the DEF, Achille Chris Joseph, is taking issue with Augustus’ statement that, “There appears to be a posture of exploitation of redundancy by some prominent employers in Dominica. The provisions of the law have been set aside in one case, for whereas the law provides for six weeks layoff, that employer has issued to his staff six months notice of lay-off.”

Joseph is issuing an open challenge to Augustus to make that law available to employers in Dominica since he, Joseph, does not know of the existence of such law.

“I will go further to say that no such law exists in the Commonwealth of Dominica, and any attempt to make the text of the law say so, is clearing a misreading of the construction and intent of the law,” Joseph said.

He added, “There is no statutory upper limit on the duration of layoff since it is a relief available to employers when their businesses are faced with operational and structural frustration, and only the employer can determine the period of absence.”

Joseph went on to say that after Hurricane Maria, some employers did not lay off workers at all and carried their employee on the payroll even when little or no work was done.

“There were also many employers who were able to recall their employees after a couple weeks on lay-off. Only a few, and I mean, a few employers still have employees on lay-off,” he stated. “Did we ever hear the Unions commend employers who bit the bullet and kept their staffs on the job? How many Unions did we hear come out publicly and condemned the looting and raping of private businesses?”

Joseph said that following Maria, Dominica is “witnessing a society harboring hostility to business and industry.”