Most of Dominica’s workers are taking a break from the workplace today as the annual Merchant’s Day holiday is observed, but the
debate on the significance of the traditional break has continued.

Some business places have opened their doors, prompting questions as to whether Merchant’s Holiday is proclaimed by legislation.

The union representing Dominican workers, the Waterfront and Allied Workers Union (WAWU), has sought to shed some light on the issue, and today told state-owned radio that workers should report to work today if called upon to do so by their employers.

“The workers unfortunately have nothing to back them up, except to say that it is customary practice, so if an employer … calls on their workers to report to work today, then in fact the workers are supposed to report to work,” emphasized Secretary-Treasurer of the WAWU, Kertiste Augustus.

“In order to enjoy the 1st of January as a pay day for them, they the workers would have to work the day preceding and the days succeeding,” Augustus added.

He has also said employees will not be entitled to extra pay for working today because it is not a public holiday.

“The workers cannot demand that as a right. Normally if a worker is expected to work on a public holiday, then that worker will be entitled to double time; that cannot be the claim since it is not a proclaimed holiday,” the union official further explained.

Merchant’s Holiday is being observed today January 3, 2011, since the customary date for the observance, January 2, fell on a Sunday this year.

Last week, the Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce (DAIC) in a release, said it was not in support of the Merchants Day break for Dominica today, Monday, January 3, 2011. The DAIC said it was concerned about “non-productive breaks” in the country.