A ‘misinformed’ information minister, striking staff says

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Protesting staff at the state-owned Antigua and Barbuda Broadcasting Services (ABS) are of the view that the Minister of Information, Broadcasting and Telecommunication, Melford Nicholas, has been ‘misinformed’ about the critical matters affecting them, and has therefore failed to address their plight and that of other staff within his ministry.
This response from Shop Steward Kerrio Adams was the rebuttal to recent statements which the minister made on the state broadcasting media on Friday. During an interview, Nicholas accused the staff of stealing time from the entity to work elsewhere.
Nicholas, who claimed  he was shocked by the action taken by the majority of the staff, explained that he believed this was the true
reason for the industrial action.
However, Adams told OBSERVER media on Sunday that it is clear the minister is ‘misinformed’ about the facts and is not knowledgeable about what is taking place at ABS Television and Radio.
“There are several occasions where workers were cheated out of their time. Like, after you have worked a full eight-hour shift and an assignment comes in and you have to attend and we are not paid overtime. For the last two years we have not received our full overtime pay.
“On many occasions we would have filled out overtime forms for a particular month which may have more than one holiday and we would only be paid for one. It leaves people to question, ‘why am I sacrificing for this system which is cheating me?’ I don’t know where the minister is getting his information from,” Adams said.
Video editors, reporters, technicians and other staff members are advocating for outstanding overtime pay, workings conditions and the removal of their general manager. They downed tools on Thursday and have vowed to continue the protest action until they get an audience with Minister Nicholas to discuss their issues.
As of Friday, the staff at the Ministry of Information headquarters in Coolidge and those at the GATE facility also joined in solidarity with their ABS counterparts to highlight similar issues with the conditions in which they are working.
Meantime, Adams stressed that aside from overtime and the condition of the building where they perform their duties, one of their main issues is to effect the removal of ABS’ General Manager — Erna-Mae Brathwaite — who has been the subject of much criticism for her style of management.
“In my nearly 20 years of working at ABS I have never seen so much sick leave ever,” Adams said yesterday.
“People will take sick leave back-to-back just to avoid dealing with the general manager. She has killed morale. There are people who used to go above and beyond; they have basically lost interest now.”
The workers, who will continue the fifth day of protest today, are acting on the advice of their bargaining unit, the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU).

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