General Secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU), Thomas Letang, has described the late Kertiste Augustus as an “experienced trade unionist” who stood for the working class and advocated for their rights.
Augustus, who was the Secretary General of the Waterfront and Allied Workers Union (WAWU), passed away just recently at the Dominica-China Friendship Hospital after he had suffered a stroke.
Letang, who spoke to Dominica News Online (DNO) during an interview, said the DPSU is very saddened at the passing of ‘Brother Kertiste Augustus’.
“He had a very good relationship with this union,” Letang said. “Dominica has indeed lost a very great son of the soil.”
According to him, Augustus was very knowledgeable and was well known for his work, not only in Dominica, but at the regional level where he served as Secretary-Treasurer of the Caribbean Congress of Labour from 1983 to 1998.
Letang mentioned that Kertiste was also known internationally where his union was part of a number of international organizations.
“And Kertiste, in attending conferences, those high level conferences, was never a quiet person,” Letang stated. “He would make significant contributions to whatever discussions were taking place.”
He continued,” His recommendations, his advice, were well respected and that is why I am saying that not only Dominica, the region and the international community have indeed lost a really great person.”
Letang pointed out that Augustus was always in favour of a Trade Union Congress in Dominica.
“As a matter of fact, he and I worked on a draft constitution for a Trade Union Congress,” Letang revealed. “I am sorry that he passed without seeing that coming to fruition.”
He said Augustus was also an advocate for a review of the minimum wage.
“We served on the committee that made recommendations for the minimum wage,” the DPSU official stated. “Again, I am sorry that Kertiste was not able to hear the announcement that the minimum wage in Dominica has increased.”
Letang went on to describe Kertiste Augustus as a very simple and dedicated person and everybody who came into contact with him, had only pleasant things to say about him.
Letang believes the country has lost a “great Dominican” and it will be very difficult to find a replacement for him.
“But anybody who replaces him, if they closely follow his work, his dedication and commitment, then things will be easier,” he asserted. “They will not be able to do everything like him, but if you look at him and look at his work, his commitment, his dedication, how disciplined he was, [how] he kept himself informed with global events and regional issues, anybody replacing Kertiste will have to develop that kind of habit.”
Letang extended deepest sympathies to his wife, children, other close relatives and every member of the (WAWU).