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 and Allied Workers Union Kertiste Augustus has said.
Speaking at a May Day Rally organized by WAWU on Monday, he said following the hurricane last September, calls for representation by unions have been intense.
“And more so in relation to the question of layoffs and redundancy,” he said. “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.”
He stated that the silence of the Ministry of Labour and the Minister of Labour has been deafening.
“Deafening has been the silence of the Labour Ministry and the Labour Minister in that regard,” Augustus said.
He went on to say that WAWU is concerned that staff of a certain hotel is now earning less than they did before Hurricane Maria.
“A leading hotel in Dominica has elected to use provisions of Section 18 of Act 8904 to deny workers notice pay in lieu of termination for reasons of redundancy,” he noted. “That very hotel has engaged in a strategy to reduce the rate or the pay scale of workers following recall after layoff. A worker who was enjoying a rate of $6.60 per hour and five points for service charge before Maria, on recall by that hotel is offered a rate of $5 and two percentage points for service charge. Isn’t this exploitation?”
He stated that when workers are recalled, they are supposed to get the rate that they were getting.
“But they are recalling you now at a rate that is much lower and service charge points that is much lower,” Augustus said. “That has got to be exploitation.”