Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority, Stanley Smith, has resigned from his post after he was suspended yesterday.
“It’s an investigation and one of the matters is basically outside the bounds of discussion now because the CEO himself has resigned,” Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Aviation Edson Joseph said while addressing a crowd of disgruntled airport employees.
Smith is said to have resigned from his post as CEO shortly after being suspended for an undisclosed reason. But OBSERVER media was reliably informed that Smith, a Jamaican who was appointed to the post in 2012, did not agree with the terms of his suspension.
The Human Resource Director, Forsianne Joseph, was also suspended.
Around 100 workers from the Airport Authority stopped working and mounted a demonstration in front of the old airport terminal to protest the suspension of their now former boss, Smith, and the Human Resource Director.
The workers did not hesitate to share their views on the matter.
“From the time I’ve been working up here since 1988 we’ve been struggling. But from the time Mr. Stanley Smith came on this airport, we met him, we opened our arms to him, we tell him everything, and he did wonders for us,” one female employee said.
Another staff member said, “They don’t want to pay us our back pay and they don’t want to give us an increase, and the person they want to put in charge now is not a good person.”
However, following a lengthy closed-door meeting prompted by the industrial action involving a large group of workers, Aviation Minister Robin Yearwood spoke vaguely to the staff about their grievances and then ordered back to work.
“We must think of country before Robin Yearwood … Your actions that you might call simple have ripple effects on the tourism industry, in the stores, all over,” the minister said.
The rumored cause of the suspensions is said to be the alleged leak of a report recommending salary increases for airport authority staff.
However, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Aviation Edson Joseph said this is not the case.
“The rumor is that we dismissed the two persons because they leaked the document. That is not so. The investigation does not speak directly to those things that are being purported around the airport,” Joseph declared.
Apart from this, Minister Yearwood and other officials revealed that the former CEO is now the subject of an investigation, but they were tight-lipped on the matter.
“There are things that we can’t get into and I’m not going to get into it in a public forum. We are doing an investigation, when the investigation is finished, we will deal with the investigation,” Minister Yearwood said.
Deputy General Secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union (ABWU) Chester Hughes, who participated in the meeting, added that negotiations relating to the previously mentioned report will continue on Monday despite the investigation.