No Unity in Unions
It may be easy to break a single stick but it will take much more strength to break several if they are closely bound together. Tell that to Dominica's trade unions.
As unions get ready to celebrate May Day 2013, two union bosses say these organisations, ironically, do not seem to appreciate the benefit of coming together.
Secretary-Treasurer of the Waterfront and Allied Workers' Union (WAWU) Curtis Augustus and General Secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU) Thomas Letang say they are disappointed with the state of the unions in Dominica.
"The state of relationship between the unions is not what it used to be before," Augustus said. "Ten to15 years ago the unions were more active and visible. That is not the case today and I am concerned that we are not doing as we should. One of the setbacks is the proposed Trade Union Congress."
Augustus believes that a trade union congress will foster greater unity among local trade unions and produce greater results for workers.
"We believe and we are convinced now, more than ever before, that it is totally necessary that trade unions get together, to be able to speak with one voice and to give the best of representation to the workers," he said. "I think a united force is better than those singular individual forces that now exist."
He added: "It's not without efforts being made to so establish but for some unknown reason we are unable to get together to look at the wider picture and sink whatever differences that exists".
Repeating that position, Letang told The SUN: "We are doing the best we can and as much as possible as a trade union. I am disappointed in how the unions are working together. The working classes of the country want a trade union congress and lots of work has been done including a draft constitution has been prepared by Brother Curtis Augustus of WAWU and me.
"That was submitted on two occasions to the unions but this has been met with some form of resistance from some unions. If is three or two we need to go ahead then so be it but it seems hard and with all the issues we are being faced with, if we were as a united force we would have been in a much better position at present," Letang said.
May Day is observed in Dominica on the first Monday in May while many other countries in the Caribbean observe the day on May 1st. Initially, May Day was established to demonstrate for the enactment of an eight-hour day. But later unions the world over used May Day to further the struggle for workers' rights and to promulgate solidarity among workers.
There are six trade unions in Dominica. In addition to the two already mentioned there are the Dominica Trade Union (DTU); the Dominica Association of Teachers (DAT), the Dominica Amalgamated Workers Union (DAWU) and the National Workers Union (NWU).
The Trade Union Act of 1952 is the primary law governing trade unions; the Act provides for the protection, registration and code of ethics of all union organisations. All workers have the legal right to organize, to choose their representatives, and to strike, but unions represent less than 10 percent of the work force.
DPSU and WAWU have planned a few activities for May Day; the DPSU has organised a consultation on the way forward for the union as well as a radio programme and a health hike to Victoria Falls in Delices.