General Secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU), Thomas Letang has announced that his union will be embarking on a planned course of action to force the government to come to the table to negotiate salaries for public officers.
He made the announcement during a press conference held at the DPSU building on Monday.
The union is in the process of negotiating with the government of Dominica for 2018/2021 triennium and for the past 7 months since December 2018, when the proposals were submitted to the government, the union has been campaigning for the start of negotiations.
“The Union has decided on a course of action to deal with the situation,” Letang said. “I want to make it clear that yes, we have a planned course of action that we will be embarking on to force the government to come to the table and to negotiate.”
He continued, “Not only to negotiate but to come with a proposal that makes sense.”
However, the DPSU official said that for various reasons which the union will not reveal at this time, “we have delayed that action.”
Letang went on to say that the union received government’s proposal for salary negotiations on June 19th 2019, and “it is not saying much to us.”
“In their proposal what they have done is to list some of their social programmes and using that, among other reasons, for not wanting to give public officers a salary increase,” he remarked. “The content of government’s proposal was discussed with our members and the members directed the executive to respond to the government and to state in our response that we find their proposal, or in submitting that proposal to us they were being very disrespectful and that proposal lacks substance.”
He said that in a letter dated July 1st 2019, addressed to the Chief Personnel Officer, the general membership further directs the executive to advise government of their desire for negotiations to commence by July 8th, 2019, “with the government coming to the table with a reasonable offer.”
He revealed that there has not been any further development since the letter dated July 1st 2019.
“We have not heard from the government and negotiations have not commenced,” he stressed.
Meantime, Letang made it clear that the union is not willing to accept a “no salary increase” for the 2018/2021 triennium. He said the DPSU is non-partisan and has no control over the situation in which the triennium for negotiations falls within an election year.
“If everything you intend to do which is in the interest of your members and you feel that the actions will be perceived as being political, then it means that you will never do what you have to do,” he pointed out. “We have absolutely no control in that the triennium for negotiations falls within an election year.”
Letang explained that the law states that every three years the unions are to negotiate and it so happened that in this triennium, there is an election.
He said if people choose to inject their own political views into the situation, “then that is up to them.”
“But we are not saying we are not going to negotiate because it is an election year,” Letang insisted. “It has never happened in the history of the PSU where we had to postpone negotiations. To postpone negotiations would be illegal because the Public Service Act tells us that every three (3) years we supposed to be engaged in negotiations.”