The Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU) says it will stage public demonstrations in the streets of Roseau should a proposed August 4th meeting with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit fail to materialize or resolve long outstanding grievances of the staff of the Public Works Corporation (PWC).
For the last six weeks, the fortnightly paid workers at the Corporation have not received any wages while the monthly paid workers have not been paid for the last two months. Social Security contributions and income tax deductions have also not been paid to the Dominica Social Security and the Inland Revenue Division on behalf of the workers. Consequently workers have been losing their applicable benefits and income tax returns.
Workers are also concerned that the government owes the PWC some $3,137,691 and appear to be marginalizing the Corporation.
The proposed August 4th meeting, which is a public holiday in Dominica, is designed to address these issues.
However, Thomas Letang, General Secretary of the DPSU told listeners to the Union’s radio programme on q95 FM on Wednesday “if that meeting and the matters with regard to the people’s salaries are not resolved then the Union will embark…upon demonstrations in Roseau”.
The street protests are carded for August 11 and 12
For months, the DPSU has been seeking an audience with the Public Works Minister the Hon. Rayburn Blackmoore, as well as with the board of management of the Corporation, but to no avail.
Frustrated with the lack of progress, PWC staff finally decided to take to the streets of Roseau last Tuesday, staging a public protest outside the Financial Center. The intention was to draw public attention to the plight of the workers and force a meeting between Prime Minister Skerrit and his cabinet and the PSU.
PM Skerrit eventually acceded to their request, meeting with Letang along with two of the Public Works employees. After brief discussions, a meeting was set for August 4th that would seek to address in detail the outstanding issues.
August 4th (August Monday) however is a public holiday in Dominica and there is some concern that the meeting may not materialize. Letang says he has been seeking to reschedule the meeting but with very little luck.
There is also no word to date that the proposed August Monday meeting will be cancelled but the Union Boss warned, “If that meeting does not come through and the issues are not resolved then we have a backup plan”.
That backup plan is to stage massive public demonstrations throughout the streets of Roseau on the August 11 and 12.
“We are calling on everybody who has an interest in and is sympathetic to the plight of the people of the Public Works Corporation to come and join us” Letang pleaded.
He assured the public that the Union had “exhausted all our efforts in trying to get these issues resolved” and the planned protests were last-ditch efforts to force a resolution of the matter.
The Union has already dispatched an official letter to the Commissioner of Police requesting permission to demonstrate