ABWU engaged in Jolly Beach workers’ severance talks

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Deputy General Secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) Chester Hughes
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By Kadeem Joseph

[email protected]

The Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) has confirmed that the body is in discussions with a potential investor in the Jolly Beach Resort.

The Deputy General Secretary of the union, Chester Hughes, confirmed the talks on Monday, but he was tight-lipped with details surrounding the dialogue thus far.

“There are discussions that are taking place between an investor and the union with regards to the amounts that are owed to the workers,” he said. “I would not want to get too deep into those discussions at this point in time.”

Last week, the Cabinet sought to reassure former employees of the once-bustling resort that the government still intends to honour all obligations regarding severance and other outstanding payments.

Hundreds of former workers are collectively owed more than EC $7 million.

Government and statutory bodies are also owed around EC $80 million by the business which has been closed since the first quarter of 2020.

The government took over the 464-room resort property in 2020 due to the business owing millions of dollars to the State.

Efforts to sell the property hit a snag recently, after it was revealed that there is a $15 million charge on it by a creditor.

Due to this new development, Cabinet announced plans to refurbish hundreds of the rooms at the resort through a temporary lease to an unnamed hotelier.

Hughes has blasted the government for its lack of communication with the union and the former employees, adding that the government has paid scant regard to the workers.

He claimed that when the workers, supported by the union, picketed Parliament in February, Minister of State within the Ministry of Finance Lennox Weston announced that monies could soon be forthcoming with the government floating a $200 million bond on the European stock market.

“To date that has not been done, and nobody has come forward and said, well, ‘we apologise, we are not able to do it, so we are asking for some more time’,” he said.

He is calling on the government to call a meeting with the workers to discuss the way forward.

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