DEF writes open letter to Kertiste Augustus on statements made in May Day address

Joseph (left) Augustus

Below is an open letter written by the Dominica Employer’s Federation (DEF) to Kertiste Augustus on recent statements he made saying that there appears to be “a posture of exploitation of redundancy by some prominent employers in Dominica” after Hurricane Maria.

Dear Mr Augustus,

At a May 7, 2018 May Day Rally organised by the Waterfront & Allied Workers’ Union you, in your capacity as Secretary/Treasurer of said trade union, published a certain statement, “There appears to be a posture of exploitation of redundancy by some prominent employers in Dominica. The provisions of the law have been set aside in one case, for whereas the law provides for six weeks lay-off, that employer has issued to his staff six months notice of lay-off.”

You did not limit your publication to the confines of the facility and audience where the rally was held.

Following your verbal publication, you gave copies of your written address to the press for print and radio publication to the world. DBS Radio aired excerpts of your address on the morning of Tuesday 8th instant. Parts of your address were put in print on Tuesday May 8, 2018 on DNO under the caption “Employers using Maria to exploit Workers, Labour Ministry silent says WAWU.” Paragraph one of the print publication on DNO read, “Some employers in Dominica are using the passage of Hurricane Maria to exploit workers while the Ministry of Labour remains silent, Secretary-Treasurer of the Waterfront & Allied Workers’ Union Kertiste Augustus has said.”

On Wednesday May 9, 2018, Executive Director of the Dominica Employers’ Federation published a reaction to your May Day address, specifically the statements made by you which branded some employers as “Exploiters” on the ground that employers have set aside the provisions in the law which limits lay-off to six weeks.

For purposes of this exchange, we wish to remind you that the Dominica Employers’ Federation is the private sector organisation created for and exclusively representative of employers in the fields of labour, employment, organisation, productivity and related social issues. The Dominica Employers’ Federation is also the spokesperson for the social responsibilities of employers in Dominica. The Dominica Employers’ Federation is also an employer who resorted to the redundancy provisions following the hurricane.

The said published reaction from the Dominica Employers’ Federation, DEF, issued an open challenge to you to make the law on lay-off available to employers in Dominica since the Dominica Employers’ Federation does not know of the existence of a law setting a limit to lay-off duration. The DEF reaction also stated, “I will go further to say that no such law exists in the Commonwealth of Dominica, and any attempt to make the text of the law say so, is clearly a misreading of the construction and intent of the law. There is no statutory upper limit on the duration of lay-off.”

Today is May 30, 2018 and, to date, you have not presented any law setting a limit of six weeks to the duration of lay-off. You have similarly not attempted to make necessary corrections to your publication on May Day and thereafter. You purported to justify your statements by reference to a section of law which does not address a maximum limit to lay-off.

Since therefore, your conclusion that employers are “Exploiters”, was and still is based on your careless reference to a law which employers have “set aside”; a law which does not exist; a law you cannot present, even after a public challenge tabled by the DEF; and since the several publications of your May Day address have lowered the esteem of employers in the minds of the ordinary man, the Dominica Employers’ Federation demands an unconditional retraction of the whole or defamatory parts of your May Day address with immediate effect.

Such unconditional retraction must similarly be published in the manner in which your address was published, and must be done by midnight June 6th, 2018.


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  1. Paul Rossnof
    June 3, 2018

    It’s clear where DEF association is. Dominicas employees have virtually no law based employment protection and that’s how the Skerrit regime likes things in Dominica. Everything is at their mercy and from their grace. In a few years the entire country will be totally at the mercy of Skerrit and his cabal and goons. Back to slavery but this time the modern version. But Dominicans like it so, otherwise he would have gotten his marching orders long time ago.

  2. Ibo France
    May 31, 2018

    An employer guards his profit margin like a lioness guards her cubs. Maximum profit is their first, second, third and last preoccupation before falling asleep at nights. The wellbeing of the workers is not a major concern of theirs. Many employers underpay their employees. As job vacancies are almost non-existent, the workers are petrified that they would lose their jobs if they protest against the meager wages that they take home. It’s a fact that exploitation of workers is common in Dominica because of the scarcity of jobs. Good paying jobs are elusive.

  3. PMP
    May 31, 2018

    DEF is correct. The entire society stands to improve when Civil society Organisations, NGOs, Business Service Organisations and ordinary individuals, find it unacceptable when comments, allegations statements on the character , conduct , behavior of organisations and/or individuals , are made that are not based on facts, but on falsehoods, misrepresentation and maliciousness. To bring one character , intent or behavior into disrepute is to threaten ones likelihood. The careless comments by some to let this be, is indeed part of the poison which needs to be cleansed.

    In addition, when we have erred as individuals and/or organisations it is indeed a sign of our maturity and moral consistency to quickly apologize. On the contrary, to attempt to engage in deceit and additional misrepresentation in support of the indefensible, is indeed a bad omen for the country.

  4. ????????
    May 31, 2018

    What is that attitude must be done by midnight 6th June or what?? Achille, Curtis made his statement. Wrong or right. Put your own letter to educate persons in the way your organisations sees or interprets the law. I for sure will read your side. Stop this back and forth thing; even threats at this time of our recovery efforts. Look for something meaningful to do assisting those who need help. Persons who lost roofs, jobs, everything do not want to hear this back & forth little boy stories. Many persons are out there hurting whilst u trying a fight over redundancy. The crux of the matter is some businesses were damaged, looted & this has impacted their ability to reopen etc. Those hurting persons (be job or house loss) can understand that even if it hurts real bad. As the Employers’ Federation what action are you taking to assist yours or others (Employees of your employers who are without a job)? Perhaps you need to refocus &seek assistance from your afiliates…

  5. Toto
    May 31, 2018

    Achille Indon’t know who advise you but I can guess. Leave that alone my boy, even if you are right. I’m no lawyer but I do know this will do nothing to improve relations between employers and their workers. Often someone wins a battle only to lose the war.

  6. Lang Beff
    May 31, 2018

    So you see what we are fighting over in Dominica? and the more important things go unattended? Why do you think we will always be last? Big men!….so sad. I weep for my Country.

  7. Jah Kal
    May 31, 2018

    U guys going back and forth take it to the streets Roseau.

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