ABWU labels PM’s comments ‘misguided, laced with inaccuracies’

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The Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) says recent comments by Prime Minister Gaston Browne over the proposed sale of Scotiabank are erroneous.

During a recent interview on his radio station, Pointe FM, Browne made comments regarding the severance benefits for staff at local branches of the financial institution and called for an investigation into alleged malpractices by the Canadian bank.

However, during a press conference yesterday, the union’s general secretary David Massiah said Browne’s utterances were misguided and laced with inaccuracies. Massiah further accused the prime minister of superimposing himself on industrial relations discussions without consulting the workers’ union for first-hand information.

He said the collective agreement with Scotiabank has granted permanent part-time workers the same benefits and rights as full time workers and they will receive severance payment.

“A part-time employee – under the International Labour Organization and in the collective agreement between the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union and Scotiabank – is entitled to the same benefits [as full-time staff],” he said, noting that these benefits include severance pay.

Massiah criticized the Office of the Prime Minister for “treating the workers’ union as an afterthought” in the government’s invitation of the ABWU to a discussion with Scotiabank.

“Someone from the Prime Minister’s office showed up at [the meeting with Scotiabank] to hand-deliver a letter to the bank’s manager at that time and, within the letter, we are told that the union representative is also invited and that the [President of the ABWU] has received the letter. But we have not received that letter since [the meeting]” he said.

However, Massiah maintained that the ABWU will attend any meeting if invited by the Prime Minister and will not engage in a public dispute over the representation of its members.

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