ABHTA says Labour Dep’t issue involves re-certification, not registration

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By Theresa Goodwin

[email protected]

An official from the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association (ABHTA) is making it clear that the AHTA is the duly recognised bargaining unit for most of the hotel properties on island.

Executive Chairman of the ABHTA Vernon Jeffers Snr made the clarification in response to claims by a union official regarding the body’s registration status at the Labour Department.

Deputy General Secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) Chester Hughes suggested on Monday that the ABHTA was not duly registered with the Labour Department, and this was impeding the process of ongoing negotiations between the association and the union.

“We have asked them to regularise with the Labour Department because the department has advised us that they are not properly registered. We cannot get the last collective agreement out from the Labour Department because the association that all the hotels are a part of is not properly registered, and the Labour Department is waiting on documentation from them.

“We have advised the association that if they do not do so within a quick time, then we would have to go and speak to their members individually and sign individual collective agreements with their membership. We cannot continue to wait on a body that should have been updating their records to hold up the negotiations,” Hughes said.

However, Jeffers Snr addressed the matter during an interview yesterday and indicated that the issue has to do with re-certification and not registration.

“There is a recertification process which takes place at the Labour Department and for us, because of all we had to handle due to the pandemic, our audited financial statement was behind when it came to the end of the fiscal year,” he said.

He added that this was communicated to the Labour Commissioner and once that documentation is presented it would conclude the recertification process.

According to Jeffers Snr, this process does not prevent the ABHTA from negotiating with the ABWU as the body is still the duly recognised agent for the hotel properties and other associated members.

“My director and I have been in dialogue with the Labour Commissioner and she has indicated a willingness and there is an agreed date by which the completed audited financial statements will be submitted to her, but it does not stop us from negotiating,” Jeffers Snr said.

He said he values the working relationship that exists between the ABHTA and the ABWU and looks forward to continued dialogue.

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