The union representing former Jolly Beach workers is not convinced that the government cares about paying these men and women the monies due to them.
Hundreds of the former workers are owed more than EC$7 million in outstanding pay and severance, more than two years after the once-thriving resort closed its doors.
The government has since been working to secure new investment for the property, and has pledged to ensure the workers are paid – it even said it would put forward EC$3 million as a partial payment.
In May, the government announced that it had encountered a hurdle in its quest to sell the property, as it was discovered there is a $15 million charge on it by a creditor. The matter is now in court and the government said the process which could take two years could stall payments to the owed workers, a claim that the Union dismissed.
If they wanted to pay these workers they would have and whatever had to be done after the court process could be deducted. If they truly felt that these workers who have been suffering for some time now really deserved this money, they would have paid them. They accuse us of playing politics when it is them who have been playing politics,” said Deputy General Secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union, Chester Hughes said on Thursday.
The union said further that despite several pleas for updates on the situation, the government has refused to speak to either the union or the workers themselves.
“We have heard nothing from the government. We have appealed to them on several occasions. They pledge 3 million dollars three weeks ago and up till now they have not communicated to us,” Hughes said.
The government took over the Jolly Beach property in 2020 due to the business owing millions of dollars to the state.
The 464-room resort has been closed since March 2020 when travel to the twin island nation came to a halt as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hundreds of former workers, at least two of whom have since died, are owed more than EC$7 million in outstanding pay and severance. Government and statutory bodies alone are owed around EC$80 million.