Twenty employees from the Public Works Corporation (PWC) were served walking papers on Wednesday, General Secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU) Thomas Letang has confirmed.
“Wednesday they were issued…twenty of them were issued with letters for layoff starting from 1st of July to sometime in August,” he told Dominica News Online. “It’s about six weeks, so they will be laid off for about six weeks.”
He further stated that it appears the PWC management does not have the money for redundancy and is going the route of laying off workers.
“What they might do is after the six weeks maybe call people back, have them work for a period of time and then send them out again,” Letang remarked.
He said the union is trying to establish whether those who got the letters were victimized because they took part in recent protest action by the workers.
“For example, we are looking at one area where a gentleman is being sent home, he is the most experienced person in the area where he works, he is the Supervisor in the area where he works, he is more experienced than the other person and we are wondering why did you send him home. Is it because he was protesting?” Letang noted. “We are looking at all the people and the names and based on that we are again getting in contact with the lawyer and determine whether there is anything that can be done in terms of the people who were sent home and who have been laid off.”
Letang said last week that he received a letter signed by the General Manager of the PWC stating that a total of 20 employees would be laid off effective Friday, June 19th 2015.
In fact he said the DPSU was seeking to file an injunction in court to prevent the layoffs.
However, he said on Friday (today) that the union’s lawyers have advised that the union should respond to the notices sent by the PWC management.
“We did not take a definite decision that we were going to file an injunction,” he pointed out. “We said that we would be seeking legal advice and our lawyers advised us that we should respond to the notices that they sent and explained to us that it was not in keeping with the sections of the laws that they were quoting.”
PWC workers have been protesting for weeks complaining of late salaries, non-payment of contribution to Social Security, poor working conditions and a host of other issues.
The protest was deemed illegal by the authorities.
On Friday the union encouraged Dominicans to wear black in solidarity with the workers.
“We will see how that goes and will decide where we move from there,” Letang said.