“Restructuring” and “making people redundant” are among words being heard following a meeting between the Board of Directors of the Public Works Corporation (PWC) and the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU) late Thursday.
The meeting came on the heels of two days of protest action by PWC workers who said they have not received salaries for four fortnights.
Board members of the PWC is making it clear that the Corporation has to be restructured and redundancy is possible.
“Everyone, including the staff, is aware that the PWC has a large overhead and of course laying off and making people redundant is not always the first option, but there comes a point when if you have something that is a recurring decimal and you have to take some steps to correct it, and that is one we are working on currently,” Board Director, Simeon Albert said to the media after the meeting.
Albert pointed out that in “restructuring” a number of factors, including the laying off of staff, have to be considered.
But the matter is not going down well with General Secretary of the DPSU, Thomas Letang, who is calling on the board to be honest with the workers.
“It’s not a matter of learning from your mistakes, it’s about taking a different approach to the way we have been doing things in the past and we are asking the board to be very candid, very honest with the staff what their intentions are,” he said. “When you talk about restructuring, tell them exactly what you mean by restructuring and all the other issues that we are being faced with. Be honest with them.”
He added, “Once we heard about restructuring, and as a union when you represent people and you hear about restructuring, you cannot pretend that, that may not include laying-off of staff and making positions redundant. Now the employer will never say that to you but that is something that you should bear in mind and that is why we are asking the board to be very honest and tell us what their intentions are.”
A meeting is expected to be held between the workers, the board and the DPSU on Friday and the matter will be discussed further.
“Even at the meeting today that was hinted but we will have further discussions on that at tomorrow’s meeting,” Letang said.
He noted that no union leader can ever be happy about people’s positions being made redundant however there are some staff who would not mind it, instead of having to go through “this” all the time.
With regards to the Minister for Public Works, Ian Pinard stating publicly that monies will be made available for staff’s salary, Letang said “it’s very disappointing.”
He noted that everytime workers at the PWC protest, there is the impression that it is only about non-payment and the delay of salaries.
“It is more than that,” he remarked.
Letang said protest will not end until the staff decides the position the union should take.
Meanwhile Shop Stewart at the PWC, Dale Laurent, said that it is “open knowledge” the Corporation is going though “a lot of struggles” which are longstanding, but the issue really is about sustainability.
“We are hearing in the air about restructuring and I guess in that whole process of restructuring, after all is said and done, the Corporation will be able to be viable and we will have sustainability at the Corporation,” he remarked.