Disappointment over lack of trade union congress

Letang (left) and Augustus laments that a trade union congress has come to reality in Dominica
Letang (left) and Augustus lament that a trade union congress has come to reality in Dominica

Leading members of the island’s two major trade unions are expressing disappointment that a much talked about trade union congress has not come to fruition.

Secretary-Treasurer of Waterfront and Allied Workers Union (WAWU), Kertiste Augustus, laments the fact that the relationship between the trade unions is not what it used to be and described the lack of a trade union congress as a ‘setback.’

“The state of Trade Unionism, the state of relationship between the unions are not what it used to be before … 10-15 years ago the unions were more active and visible,” he stated. “That is not the case today and I am concerned that we are not doing as we should. One of the setbacks is the Trade Union Congress.”

He said, now more than ever, the island’s trade union must come together. “I am of the view now, more than ever before, that it is totally necessary that the trade unions get together, to be able to speak with one voice and to give the best of representation to the workers; and I think a united force is better than those singular individual forces that now exist,” Augustus argued.

General Secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU), Thomas Letang, said that he too is disappointed that despite his efforts, and that of Augustus at getting a Trade Union Congress formed in Dominica; it has been met with “resistance” from some union leaders.

“We are doing the best we can and as much as possible as a trade union,” he stated. “I am disappointed in how the unions are working together. The working classes of the country want a trade union congress and lots of work has been done including a draft constitution which has been prepared by Brother Kertiste Augustus of WAWU and me.”

His views were supported by Augustus who  stated that he has worked hand in hand with the DPSU in preparing a “draft constitution” and went as far as circulating it to members on two occasions with no results.

“That was submitted on two occasions to the unions but this has been met with some form of resistance from some unions … it is time that we move ahead with those who are willing and get the ship sailing,” Letang stated.

There are over five trade unions  on island with the major ones being the DPSU and WAWU. The others are the Police Welfare Association (PWA), Dominica Association of Teachers (DAT) and a few other small ones.

The Trade Union Act of 1952 is the primary piece of legislation on trade unions, which provides for the protection, registration and code of ethics of all union organisations. All workers have the legal right to organize, to choose their representatives, and to strike, but unions represent less than 10 percent of the work force.

Dominica celebrates “May Day” on Monday May 7 and both major unions are planning to hold activities for their members.

Members of the DPSU they will hold a consultation on the union and the way forward followed by a radio programme and a health hike to Victoria Falls in Delices.

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  1. Anonymous
    May 2, 2013

    The activity/ies is for ‘their’ members. How do you get new members. a lot of people have lost faith in these useful bodies simple because they do not seem to be moving with the times.

    So everything is getting sophisticated, modern, why not the UNIONS approach. As a young person about say 16 to 30 and it is almost certain that the conversation will have a long pause. Need I say more?

  2. faith
    May 2, 2013

    The union playing politic with the Supremo you are the only one missing to get an award for independence so you will shut your mouth He high jack the union .
    You all union leaders are set of cheap being bought by people and not looking after the affairs of the workers. What we must do is stop paying union dues so you all will stopping the nonsense.

    May 2, 2013

    curtis the union is not what it used to be because all of allu turn politicans…and the working class love to beg

  4. Accused
    May 2, 2013

    A Trade Union Congress is a viable and potent organization which can represent the interests of members to the fullest extent. These two ‘dudes’ should not be surprised that they can’t get others to agree with them. In 2010, the TUC of Trinidad stood behind the opposition and removed a corrupt PM (not government) and now they have switched their allegiance because this government is no worse. How can anyone stand behind Augustus and Letang when they are indeed card-carrying members of the corrupt Labour Party? So drop your political allegiance; represent working people and you will see progress.

  5. Think man
    May 2, 2013

    Having a trade union congress doesnt constitute a merger into one trade union. It constitutes a system of cooperation, which means that Unions are free to host independent activities and to have differing views on issues. lets be clear folks….it offers an opportunity for collective positions but it doesn’t limit trade union freedoms and democratic principles

  6. Anonymous
    May 2, 2013


  7. Annica Alethea
    May 2, 2013

    Why won’t these useless Trade Union leaders just chill out? For more than three decades these guys are running their mouth and every May Day they come up with the same cry.
    What activity are they coming up with this May Day? None. Even that they are incapable of organizing.

  8. X UWP RosoNorth
    May 2, 2013

    lazy people talking foolishness.

    how many of those persons who hate a TRADE UNION CONGRESS believe in God, The Catholic Church,Marriage, The UWP,and stupidness.

  9. Dominiquen
    May 2, 2013

    Trade Unions have lost their teeth. :?:

  10. De W
    May 2, 2013

    it appears that every year when may day comes around the message is the same from the TU leaders.
    stop the rhetoric and lets see some trade union action around here.

  11. Da
    May 2, 2013

    Politics have played a major role Dominica to put fear in the minds of the people who want to come out to express their views on any subject even if it is for their own good.
    Trade Unions have been a live and vibrant in Da for many years and it is time for the Unionists to gather up the support needed to protect the people’s rights.

  12. Governance
    May 2, 2013

    I support a Trade Unions and I Trade Union Congress would be the way forward for all the good reasons. I have never been a member of a Trade union. I have been in management and the employees were represented by a union – we worked very well. I fact, I chastised the union for not doing more for its employees and that the only time I herd from them was when it was time to renew the agreement.

    Reading the above article, whilst the General Secretaries of WAWU and PDSU have worked to promote the Trade Union Congress, they are having separate activities on May 7. It would emphasize their support for a Congress if they would hold one activity.

    Think of this boys.


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