Union says ongoing situation at the DSC “must stop”

by: - May 11, 2021
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General Secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union, Mr. Thomas Letang has said that the ongoing situation regarding salaries owed to members of the Dominica State College and other grievances “must stop, and stop now”.

His comments came during a protest action held earlier today on the campus of the Dominica State College by staff and faculty members.

A letter was first issued to the Media on Sunday, May 9th, 2021, stating that the faculty and staff are disappointed with the management’s failure to negotiate in good faith following multiple conversations and meetings over the last seven (7) years.

The dispute centers on the failure to commit to approved remuneration by the Board and Cabinet or other improvements of pay, the working conditions on the campus with particular mention to the library, mechanical engineering workshops, and the classrooms.

“You all will be aware that the staff at the college, we’re in a situation now,” said Mr. Letang, “One that has been going on for a very very long time and for years.”

DSC Protest

He claims that representing the staff at the DSC has been a nightmare. “It’s one of the worst that we have experienced,” said Letang.

“Over the years we have seen various violations of the labour laws of this country. We have seen an institution being run and managed by one man,” said Mr. Letang as he stated that there is no board of governors which is required by the DSC Act. One man advanced in age is doing everything here and alone all by himself. This thing has been going on for too long and it needs to stop.”

Mr. Letang informed members of the media that the staff of the Dominica State College should be paid a double-bubble for the financial year 2015/2018 and a 3% salary increase.

“When you negotiate salary increases for government employees the same applies to the college staff,” said Mr Letang as he spoke of president in regards to prior salary payments when the president was “making it difficult to pay staff.”

“As a result, he paid 50% of the double bubble to staff and up to now we have not been paid the other 50%,” Mr Letand informed.

He also spoke of the 3% increase which is not being paid while stating that this is absolutely no respect to the staff here. “We believe if the gentleman has served and he has no ideas as I’ve explained to him that at his age he has too many responsibilities and therefore he cannot perform.”

The letter which was issued to the media did indicate that industrial action and the arbitration will continue until faculty and staff receive satisfaction.

Meanwhile, the Dominica State College administration and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development have indicated that they recently met with the Public Service Union (PSU) to further discuss matters raised in a letter to the college President relating to salaries owed to members and other grievances.

The Public Service Union was represented by its General Secretary, Mr. Thomas Letang, and members of the Public Service Union from the Dominica State College (DSC) faculty.

“Doctor Donald Peters, President of DSC reminded employees that the college’s infrastructure which Hurricane Maria severely destroyed was scheduled to be repaired as contracts of US 3 million dollars had already been signed with the PRC,” said Monelle Alexis, Public Relations and Recruitment Officer at the Dominica State College, “they will repair the technical buildings,” she said.

She pointed out that Dr. Peters reminded the gathering that the Ministry of Education had contracted a construction company to repair the remainder of the buildings. “The union wanted to know why it was taking so long?” She said, “Dr. peters reminded the meeting that Covid-19 had impacted the repair schedule,” as she pointed out that the Chinese could not travel.

Regarding payment of salary increases negotiated by the Government of Dominica with the PSU, Ms. Alexis stated that Dr. Peters acknowledged that those were still outstanding. “The government of Dominica had continued to pay salaries uninterrupted during schools lockdowns following Hurricane Maria and during Covid,” she continued, “so while he appreciated the staff patience and their frustrations, he believed that the Government would eventually settle of the outstanding back pays and increases.”

The College administration says it anticipates a fruitful resolution to this conflict, and President Peters indicated that as long as student success was not compromised, he was optimistic that a mutually satisfactory resolution could be achieved.