Agriculture staff to resume work following negotiations

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By Charminae George

[email protected]

Staff at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs are set to resume work today, following negotiations by union representatives with the Minister of Agriculture, EP Chet Greene and Public Works, yesterday.

Previously, the ministry’s staff sat outside the Independence Avenue location on Friday due to deplorable conditions including mold and inadequate bathroom facilities and working areas.

“We came up with some immediate remedies, some intermediate and some long term,” Andie Stephen, Industrial Relations Officer at the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU) told Observer, yesterday.

“Some of the issues we discussed can be dealt with immediately, like for instance, the cleaning of the building, addressing the overcrowding…the cleaning of the ACs, the windows,” she said.

Stephen mentioned that effective today, the working hours of staff will be shortened to midday until all the immediate issues are rectified.

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Andie Stephen, Industrial Relations Officer at the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU) (Photo courtesy: Andie Stephen)

The union representative added that remedies to other issues including changing windows, fixing cracks and leaks in offices and resolving leaks from the bathrooms to other rooms will follow after the  immediate issues are resolved.

She stated that she was satisfied with the outcome of the meeting and mentioned that the Agriculture Minister provided solutions and Public Works made a step towards remedying the issues.

“While we were doing the walkthrough today, Public Works was addressing some of the issues. We saw them with their tape, taping up some loose wires here and there. They took some notes…” she stated.

Stephen added that the AT&LU will write a letter to the Agriculture Minister and the Permanent Secretary to confirm the things agreed upon, and placing timelines on some of the items discussed in the meeting.

Additionally, the union representative mentioned that there needs to be increased dialogue with Public Works whenever government offices are retrofitted for expansion.

“What we are seeing now, the ministry would’ve made some decisions to retrofit the building for their purpose, but the building was not made for that purpose. So we’re seeing some issues where Public Works are now saying these things were not handled correctly,” she concluded.

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