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Achile Joseph, CEO of the DEF
Achile Joseph, CEO of the DEF

A May Day rally statement made by Mr. Kertist Augustus, Secretary Treasurer of the Waterfront and Allied Workers Union, to the effect that employers are using Hurricane Maria to exploit workers is very unfortunate and has caught the attention of the Dominica Employers' Federation (DEF)

Executive Director of DEF, Achille Chris Joseph, has been critical of Mr. Augustus' statement that: "There appears to be a posture of exploitation of redundancy by some prominent employers in Dominica. The provisions of the law have been set aside in one case, for whereas the law provides for six weeks lay-off, that employer has issued to his staff six months' notice of lay-off."

Mr. Joseph is issuing an open challenge to Mr. Augustus to make that law available to employers in Dominica since he, Joseph, does not know of the existence of such law.

"I will go further to say that no such law exists in the Commonwealth of Dominica, and any attempt to make the text of the law say so, is clearing a misreading of the construction and intent of the law," Joseph said.

He continued: "There is no statutory upper limit on the duration of lay-off since it is a relief available to employers when their businesses are faced with operational and structural frustration, and only the employer can determine the period of absence."

Joseph took the opportunity to state that "some employers did not use the lay-off relief at all and carried their employees on payroll even when there was little or no work to be done after the Hurricane. There were also many employers who were able to recall their employees after a couple weeks on lay-off. Only a few, and I mean, a few employers still have employees on lay-off. Did we ever hear the unions commend employers who bit the bullet and kept their staffs on the job?

"How many unions did we hear come out publicly and condemn the looting and raping of private businesses? Coming out of the Hurricane we are witnessing a society harbouring hostility to business and industry. As if the destruction by the Hurricane and looters was not enough, we are now witnessing a selective garnishing operation by the IRD and, again, the unions, our historical social and tripartite 'partners', are silent."