Good news for the employees of Rubis West Indies Limited Dominica and the nation by extension, as management of the company have deferred their decision to suspend the sale of fuel in Dominica and lay off members of staff.
The distribution company of petroleum and aviation fuels, LPG and lubricants, gained public attention last month when the contents of a letter dated August 16, 2021, were sent to members of staff informing them of the company’s decision to implement lay-offs for three months effective September 16, 2021, was published in the media.
Rubis attributed its decision to a loss of earnings “for nearly five years” and said it was awaiting word “which could affect the company’s future on the island” from the Government with whom it was negotiating.
On August 27, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, in response, made it clear that he would not give in to ‘extortionist approaches’ and indicated that based the price build-up mechanism that determines the wholesale price and the final price of fuel at the pumps, his government is not paying the company less than what they pay for the gasoline, as they allege in their letter.
He declared that his government will import petroleum if Rubis leaves Dominica.
On September 3, at least six of the nine service stations operated by Rubis West Indies Limited Dominica and one other provider, under the aegis of the Association of Fuel Retailers in Dominica, ceased operations and indicated that they would not reopen until their demands were met by the government.
The group said their protest was prompted by a lack of progress in negotiations with the government on the price build-up mechanism for the sale of fuel, a situation which the association said would cause a collapse of “this critical industry” if it was not addressed urgently.
Three days later, following a meeting with the ministry of trade, the association announced a change of heart and resumed operations on September 6, 2021, ostensibly, “to give the Government additional time to resolve the issues of the petroleum industry in Dominica.”
Many then waited with bated breath for September 16th, the deadline set by Rubis for its staff lay-offs and suspension of the sale of fuel.
But on that day, all of the company’s service stations, including the Portsmouth Service Station, A. C Shillingford Service Station, Castle Comfort Service Station, Jimmit Service Station, Marigot Service Station and Calibishie Service Station, remained open to customers.
When contacted, Rubis Country Manager, Nicholson Dodds, told Dominica News Online (DNO) that the previously announced actions by the company has been put on hold, “as we continue to negotiate in good faith.”
He said that the company will keep the public informed if the situation changes and declined to comment any further.
DNO’s attempts to seek additional comments from the Fuel Retailers Association of Dominica and the ministry of trade on the status of the negotiations, have been unsuccessful.