The Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union, the bargaining agent of over 6500 workers in Antigua and Barbuda is using this year’s Labour Day celebration to reflect on its 55 years of existence.
In a statement to mark the annual observance, the ABWU said it has, over the years, “built significant capacity and have positioned ourselves as a leader in the Labour Movement both locally and regionally”.
The Union recalls that within the past year, they have successfully negotiated “thousands of dollars in benefits and wage increases for our members and secured important victories in the industrial court on behalf of workers. Notwithstanding, we are mindful of the ongoing struggles of some of our members”
Many of their issues, according to the ABWU are the result of “poor policies and practices by the current administration, in addition to blatant neglect and disregard for the rights and well-being of workers”
The Union said Labour Day should be a time of celebrating its achievements as workers and a time to demonstrate solidarity but it really isn’t.
“This year, we must again highlight the failure of this administration to assume the position of a responsible and reasonable partner in the world of work — hence our theme: “Workers Have Absolutely No Trust in This Government,” the statement said.
The Union also used the opportunity to highlight the issue plaguing former LIAT workers.
For several months, the Prime Minister has repeatedly refused to honour our Union’s invitation to discuss the matter with him. Instead, the Prime Minister has been relentless in his attempt to bully the workers into accepting a “compassionate offer” that amounts to only a fraction of their entitlements in cash and the remainder packaged in an obscure arrangement of bonds and lands”
“What level of trust can there be in an atmosphere of intimidation? What level of trust can there be in the absence of genuine dialogue? To add insult to injury, the ongoing administration process of LIAT 1974 Ltd has been shrouded in secrecy. What is the desired outcome of the administration? When will it end? These are the lingering questions on the minds of the former staff”
The ABWU said further that they have no doubt that the matter would be further along had the government heeded to their call for dialogue.