Merchant’s Day is not a public holiday – union official

Most of Dominica’s workers are taking a break from the workplace today as the annual Merchant’s Day holiday is observed, but the
debate on the significance of the traditional break has continued.

Some business places have opened their doors, prompting questions as to whether Merchant’s Holiday is proclaimed by legislation.

The union representing Dominican workers, the Waterfront and Allied Workers Union (WAWU), has sought to shed some light on the issue, and today told state-owned radio that workers should report to work today if called upon to do so by their employers.

“The workers unfortunately have nothing to back them up, except to say that it is customary practice, so if an employer … calls on their workers to report to work today, then in fact the workers are supposed to report to work,” emphasized Secretary-Treasurer of the WAWU, Kertiste Augustus.

“In order to enjoy the 1st of January as a pay day for them, they the workers would have to work the day preceding and the days succeeding,” Augustus added.

He has also said employees will not be entitled to extra pay for working today because it is not a public holiday.

“The workers cannot demand that as a right. Normally if a worker is expected to work on a public holiday, then that worker will be entitled to double time; that cannot be the claim since it is not a proclaimed holiday,” the union official further explained.

Merchant’s Holiday is being observed today January 3, 2011, since the customary date for the observance, January 2, fell on a Sunday this year.

Last week, the Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce (DAIC) in a release, said it was not in support of the Merchants Day break for Dominica today, Monday, January 3, 2011. The DAIC said it was concerned about “non-productive breaks” in the country.

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  1. ebeh wheh
    January 4, 2011

    All other caribbean islands St kitt, Anguilla etc observed yesterday as a Holiday.. I wonder why not dominica…

    • Cassandra
      January 4, 2011

      ….because we are independent!!

  2. urban maroon
    January 4, 2011

    This holiday has been an established practice since I know myself and i’m no “spring chicken.”
    The fact is it’s not a legal public holiday.The business climate has changed tremendously in
    Dominica.We have greedy capitalist,money hungry chinese,cruise ship arrivals and lazy un-
    productive.sewo crazed dominicans who want to make Dominica a “permanent vacation spot”.
    Quite a mix.We need some discussion by all concerned an come up with a solution.
    If you all need my opinion… I say.discontinue this so called holiday

    • Cassandra
      January 4, 2011

      China 1 – Dominica 0 !! Learned that all the Chinese businesses in town were open yesterday, as apparently were Astaphan and Cost-U-less. Still wonder why some people prosper while others expect to get paid for doing no work? Yes, we do have a choise!

    • Truth, Justice, Love, Peace and Unity
      January 4, 2011

      Why should it be discontinued? On the contrary the government could just make it a public holiday and call it a day – end of disputes. Dominica and other business enterprises will not lose. Furthermore, after the New Year holiday everyone needs a rest from the hustle, bustle, entertaining and visits so that they can return to work refreshed and able to perform their duties.
      These days greed has set in rather than godliness.
      Strangers and visitors have to respect the land and its holidays. There are those who are not Christians of all who have settled in Dominica, these are they whom I believe who are causing all this. They want to change everything to suit them. They should know that “When in Rome you do as the Romans do.” Likewise Dominica. Leave the Laws and regulations of Dominica alone including its holidays.
      If the government gives in to them, soon enough it will be an attack on Christmas Day holiday and Boxing Day. They will want their employees to work on those days, saying that it is a regular work day and they will not be paid extra time/time and a half or given an alternative day off. If the employees refuse to work, they will be fired. This is the price to pay of allowing people from certain countries to invest and open their businesses in Dominica. Take note and beware!

    January 3, 2011

    To much holidays in Dominica…go and work!! :)

    • c bruce
      January 3, 2011


  4. mouth of the south
    January 3, 2011

    lets be clear,,this matter is rather simple,,,is sunday a regular business day for merchants,,,NO!!!,,,so jan 2 being a sunday cannot be a merchants holiday,,, this should automatically move to the next day which is today monday,,,and also a regular business day,,,simple as that,,,i believe employers should have discussed this with there employees and in d.a we like leaving things for last minute,,,,this should have been discussed since last year

    • Sum Fing Not Wong
      January 3, 2011

      Hey! You! Snout of the South! Yes you! How long will it take you to allow your cranium to absorb the fact that Merchants Holiday is not a public holiday in Dominica? It is NOT a holiday! It is NOT a holiday! It is NOT a holiday! You got it now? When I went to Primary School, the teachers used to collect their salaries on the last Friday of the month and, as such, we were given free time, but it was NOT a holiday. At any time, the teachers could remain at school and have their classes. So it was all up to the teachers. They made the decision. The same is the case with Merchants holiday. The Merchant decides. An employee cannot claim a holiday on Merchants holiday. Whether the days falls on Sunday or corpus christi, the employee has no choice in this matter. It is all up to the Merchant. May Day is workers day and employers have no say in that. But Merchants holiday is for the Merchant. You still want workers to have that day too? Buy, all you sou’t people na easy!

    • mouth of the south
      January 3, 2011

      papamet some peeps putting thumbs down 4 no reason wii pal!!!!! i feel sorry 4 some poor souls lol :lol: :lol: :lol:

  5. linky
    January 3, 2011

    if the mechants holliday is being observe today the 3 why is it that they u all can’t make it a holiday for all mechants today if not it makes no sence to me to talk about mechants holiday.

  6. shorty
    January 3, 2011

    may be we have 2 much holidays

  7. Sum Fing Not Wong
    January 3, 2011

    Nothing is wrong with Kertist. What he said is actually very correct. Some of us believe that a union must always say things different from the employer. They look at the union the same way they see an opposition party in Parliament. If Merchants’ Holiday is not a public holiday, what do you want Kertist to say?

    • Little Dominica
      January 5, 2011

      For the employers to appreciate and recognize the hard work of their workers.. if its called ‘Merchants Day’.. especially those standing on their feet six days and even seven days, its not easy.. Bank workers and governments workers their sitted comfortable,five days a week.

  8. wapapa
    January 3, 2011

    that should have been discused a long time ago and be made clear b4 today, cuz some pple still didnt understand what is MERCHANT holiday.

  9. Truth, Justice, Love, Peace and Unity
    January 3, 2011

    This is correct. It may have been proclaimed a legislative holiday way back in the ancient days which everyone accepted and members of the public service and others who worked in private enterprises did not object to. We accepted it then. Therefore, what is the problem today?
    It is a holiday given to the merchants’ employees by the merchants as “Thank You” in view of their hard work during the Christmas and New Year Seasons, the latter leading up to Old Year’s night. This also may have stemmed from Dominica being a British Colony then.
    This just crossed my mind, I recall on a few nights the stores would be opened until midnight. Some of you may recall this.
    Ever since I was a child when I resided in Dominica, it was then only a holiday for the store employees and not a government/public holiday.
    In Canada, it is a statutory/public holiday.
    Since it is a Merchants’ holiday, let the Merchants decide. However, the merchants should not just immediately lay it on those employees but discuss it, for some months and then advise those employees of their decision.
    Government, Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce of all, please do not be a Christmas Scrooge and deny those employees this holiday.
    Industry and Commerce you should not be interfering in this for obvious reasons. Those store employees do work hard, standing on their feet for hours serving the public and some, no doubt, difficult ones. They do deserve this holiday. Please grant it to them. In other words, “Let it be.”
    As God looks on and takes note, what you give you will receive in return. Likewise, what goes around comes around in time. Please keep this Merchants’ holiday. God will bless you for that.

    • Zane
      January 4, 2011

      Just to note here that the satutory holiday in Canada on Jan 3rd is to observe New Years day which fell on a Saturday. The holiday only applies to banks and government offices (because Saturday/New Years day is not a normal work day for these offices. In Canada, schools and all other businesses were opened on Jan 3rd. Merchants Holiday is not a Canadian or North American concept.

  10. Fairplay
    January 3, 2011

    Monday 3 is a holiday in the UK.( merchants’ holiday) 8-O

  11. mouth of the south
    January 3, 2011

    hhhhmmmm this should have been discussed since november last year,,, well i guess is recently they saw the calender

  12. Bram-bram
    January 3, 2011

    What is wrong with these “union leaders” Is that the job of the union or the employer? If the roles of the union and the employer have been changed why don’t these so-called labour unionists leave the trade union movement?

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