The establishment of an industrial court, an idea supported by the Dominica Public Service Union, could be considered by government.
This was confirmed by the Hon Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit who was responding to a question about labour disputes which are drawn out over years at Labour Tribunals.
Thomas Letang, General Secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union which represents the interests of more than 4,000 government workers, says he sees the advantages of the idea.
“I think we should be really giving serious consideration to establishing an industrial relations court where people will be full time and will be able to really look at issues,” he shared on One on One on Sunday evening.
Letang elaborated, “Why should someone have a matter and for 7 to 10 years that matter is not being resolved. Those who sit on the tribunal are providing voluntary service; they are employed otherwise.”
He added, “It is not priority to the lawyers, if there is a High Court case, that takes precedence over tribunal matters. That is something which needs to be looked at.”
Tribunals are staffed by voluntary public workers while an industrial court would have dedicated court workers able to give due time and attention to resolving disputes in the workplace.
The Hon Prime Minister acknowledge such deficiencies in the system and says a court dedicated to work disputes cannot be ruled out.
“It’s a matter that has been raised many times. The issue of industrial court is one we have to have consultation on.”
He added, “I cannot give a commitment to it but I accept entirely the fact that sometimes there is a protracted delay in the tribunal hearing cases. It can be both the complainant and the respondent at fault. Sometimes people ask for more time (and) sometimes the lawyers don’t show up.”