Twenty workers from the Public Works Corporation (PWC) will soon be given their walking papers, General Secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU), Thomas Letang has revealed.
“I got a letter yesterday signed by the General Manager saying that a total of twenty employees effective Friday, June 19th 2015 will be laid off,” Letang said at a press conference held on the site of the PWC earlier on Wednesday. “We have absolutely no information as to what those positions are and who are the people who are going to be affected.”
According to Letang, the PSU is looking at filing an injunction in court to prevent the layoffs.
“We are looking at all other options and one of the things we have decided to do is, well I have an appointment with a lawyer tomorrow to see whether we can place an injunction in that layoff,” he said. “Because we do not believe it is right, you are sending people home while you are owing social security contributions on their behalf.”
He stated further that the union is also looking at the possibility of taking the PWC to court for not paying the worker’s social security contribution.
“In other words we are ready to sue that Corporation and then we have this meeting tomorrow and following the meeting and the advice that will be given we will decide how we move from there,” he stated.
Letang made it clear that the union is not prepared to back down on the matter.
“The Union is not prepared to back off and we will go to the end of it,” he noted. “If they want to send everybody home, since that was their intention, let them do that, but we are not going to back out.”
He revealed also that the union has strong objection to the non-payments of some of the employees and has called on the PWC board to resign.
“We have strong objection to you paying some people who were on strike, who were protesting, paying some people who were protesting and not paying others. That is discrimination and that is victimization,” he stated. “My whole position is the board is spineless, ineffective and the board should resign.”
Letang further revealed that the protest action by workers will continue.
“We are protesting as we used to protest and anything that we were accustom of doing, we will continue doing it,” he explained. “We are looking at other options and that is one of the things we are looking at, and you can see that the employees as well as myself we are dressed in black and that is to show our solidarity…our struggles will continue and we will continue to strive till the end.”
Meantime Chairman of the PWC Board, Titus Francis said Letang can file the injunction if he has legal grounds to do so.
“I mean that is his right to speak and it is his right to file an injunction if he figures that he has sufficient grounds, legal grounds, justified grounds to file an injunction,” Francis said. “That is his right because he can speak as he feels that the board is incompetent and to ask for the resignation of the board. I mean I will not comment on that any further, but what Mr. Letang is supposed to tell you that just as the employees have rights and responsibilities, the employer also has rights and responsibilities.”
Francis explained that one of the responsibilities of the employer is to ensure that he structures his operations or business in such a way that, “it provides for efficiency and productivity and effective functioning…”
He added that if the Corporation, as the employer, is convinced, and can show that the number of people on the payroll now cannot be sustained due to the unavailability of work, then the employer has that right to layoff.
Additionally, he said, Letang is the representative of the employees so, “he has to represent them, but he just have to represent them in the correct way.”
PWC workers have been protesting for weeks now and on Wednesday morning there was a heavy police presence at the Corporation’s compound in Goodwill.
The protest was deemed illegal by the authorities.
See scenes at PWC compound on Wednesday.