Prime Minister Skerrit tried to use Junior Clerks to make desperate political mileage, DPSU General Secretary Thomas Letang alleges
Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU) General Secretary Thomas Letang alleges Prime Minister Skerrit tried to use junior clerks to make desperate political mileage, by holding a last-minute impromptu meeting with them, in an effort to dampen their enthusiasm for attending and supporting a DPSU salary negotiations rally which was scheduled for the same day, Thursday 11th April at 4:30 pm.
For some time now, Letang has been demanding that the Skerrit-led DLP government come to the bargaining table to negotiate meaningful salaries for public officers, including police officers and nurses. The DPSU is also demanding that public officers who have been serving in acting positions for long periods of time, up to ten years in some cases, that these officers be appointed immediately.
It is against that background that Letang sees the short notice meeting with junior clerks as a desperate gimmick to stem the rising tide of opposition to the antics of the Skerrit-led regime that has been in office for the past 19 years.
During his impromptu meeting with the junior clerks, it is alleged there was roll call to record the names of those who were present. Letang sees this as potentially leading towards some attempt to victimize those who were not present, which led him to make a public statement to the effect, that, if any one of the junior clerks was victimized in any way, the DPSU would see this as victimization of all public officers and the union would take effective action against any such move.
During the meeting with the junior clerks, Prime Minister Skerrit suddenly, but predictably, promised to appoint 53 junior clerks into the public service, something the DPSU had been demanding for quite some time, without any response from the DLP government. Letang says Skerrit’s sudden promise to appoint these junior clerks immediately is simply political expediency.
Letang said, “I believe the Prime Minister is just using that meeting with the junior clerks to make political mileage”, since he had been very much aware of that situation for a very long time, and had not done anything about it, until he saw the writing on the wall, in the face of an unfolding massive DPSU rally, that same day.
The DPSU General Secretary said, “You know that there are 53 vacant positions. For years, we have been calling on you to appoint the people, making a case for them, explaining what they are losing, getting the same basic salary for ten (10) years …They don’t get study leave and the gratuity will only start after they are appointed. Now that we are having an historic salary negotiations rally, you are suddenly calling them.”
He stressed that over the years the union has been calling on the government to appoint these workers, cognizant of the negative implications of their non-appointment in terms of their inability to get study leave, annual increment or to take a bank loan.
He added, “But nobody has been taking us seriously. You knew the vacant positions were there. All you had to do, was make the recommendations to the Public Service Commission for their appointment.”
Letang promised the DPSU will monitor the situation and will make a case for the junior clerks once they are appointed, “that we get a commitment that their years of service as non-appointed employees will be considered.”
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