Senior Counsel, Tony Astaphan has responded to statements made by General Secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU), Thomas Letang in which he criticized Prime Minister Skerrit for holding meetings with public officers.
Letang said at a press conference recently, that meetings held with public officers to discuss working conditions is the responsibility of the Establishment, Personnel and Training Department, not the prime minister.
Astaphan who is a legal adviser to the government, has countered, saying the government has an obligation to negotiate with public officers of the country.
“The Prime Minister is entitled as the Prime Minister and the Minister of finance to meet with public servants and to explain to public servants directly if he wishes, what are the plans of the government…and to explain to them the conditions of work…the financial condition of the country, the ability of the government to pay,” he said.
“The only obligation the government has is to negotiate with the public service union for salaries and other benefits but there’s is nothing in…the law or in the constitution…that prevents the Prime Minister from informing directly, the public servants, about the state of the economy, the country and what is that we plan do for them and for the country.”
Astaphan said he believes that General Secretary of the Union has not been acting honestly on behalf of the public servants and if he was the prime minister, he would “take it upon myself to inform them directly with facts which will disabuse the minds of any parties and politics.”
Letang explained that the Prime Minister has held two separate meetings with public officers.
“On Thursday march 23rd, the day that we held our widely publish rally with public officers the Prime Minister ordered all Junior clerks to a meeting with him to discuss all working conditions. Working conditions are discussed with public officers by the establishment personnel and training department not the Prime minister not any other minster of the government,” he said.
“On Tuesday the 23rd of April, he again called another meeting – this time, for senior clerks and executive officers – where he presented himself in our opinion, as both the employer and the union, discussing matters related to the appointment and other terms and conditions of work of public officers,“ the union official added.
He said no prime minister in our democracy has ever been the employer of public officers and has called for that action to be discontinued.