ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The number of Barbudans coming over to Antigua’s carnival celebrations this weekend is expected to be significantly low as those working for the Barbuda Council have not been paid.
One resident, who is employed by the Barbuda Council, told OBSERVER media he is owed three months salary, while others are due 21 weeks’ wages.
He said this is disappointing as workers were looking forward to their money, especially for the long weekend, which will culminate with the annual Antigua’s Carnival celebration on Tuesday.
“I’m feeling real sad, real bad, annoyed, angry, hungry, but I hope that the now government who said they were going to rebuild will get this thing on track, get everything out of the way and get the ball rolling as soon as possible because it is really hard for us over here in Barbuda,” the Barbuda Council worker said.
It appears that in recent times, several Barbuda workers have been reporting late for duty.
This has prompted the Barbuda Council to threaten to dock their pay, which is not sitting well with the employees.
“The Secretary of council is now trying to put something into place to try and have workers to come in early, in terms of getting special time-keepers to move around to see that everybody is at work on time; if not, it will be deducted,” the Barbuda Council worker said.
“Workers are not happy. They are very annoyed about the whole situation. Workers are saying ‘why you trying to put this in place to deduct my money when you can’t even pay me for my 20 weeks, three months.’”
Newly elected Member of Parliament for Barbuda, Arthur Nibbs, during the recent election campaign, had promised that under an Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) government, the back log of wages and salaries would be wiped out.
But Nibbs said he cannot give a timeline on when the outstanding wages will be paid to the Barbuda Council workers.
“Well I’m not in a position exactly to give a timeline. But Cabinet, at out last meeting on Thursday, when I made my submission to the Cabinet, it was approved that we would settle the backlog to the Barbuda Council employees,” Nibbs said.
“I cannot, at this point in time, put a timeframe on it because that is dependent upon resources because we have met an empty treasury. Like I said before, we are paying for electricity, we are paying for water, we are paying every single thing.
“I don’t know what the UPP was paying for because everything is left there for the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party government.”
Nibbs is also Chairman of the Barbuda Council and Minister of Barbuda Affairs, Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries.