Airport dispute will be settled soon says Labour Minister

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By Latrishka Thomas

The longstanding dispute between the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority (ABAA) officials and their employees, that fueled a go-slow at V C Bird International Airport (VCBIA) last Saturday, will reach a point of resolution in short order.

Minister of Labour Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin said this with certainty following a meeting held on Monday with officials from the ABAA and the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) who have been asked to reconcile their differences.

 “We were concerned with what occurred on Saturday at the airport because, as you are well aware, essential services such as the workers at the airport working with ABAA, are in fact essential services workers. What we’ve done is that I’ve heard the complaints of both sides, the union and the employer, and we’ve recommended that the matter be sent immediately to the Labour Department to the Labour Commissioner and her deputy for conciliation,” Benjamin said.

“I am of the very firm opinion that both sides are willing to settle. It only needs to get mediation to guide the process forward.”

Benjamin further disclosed that the first mediation meeting will be held on Friday at 10:30 am at the Labour Department.

On Saturday evening, an emergency hearing was called at the High Court as representatives from the ABAA sought to file an injunction against the workers continuing industrial action at the VCBIA.

The disgruntled ABAA employees became increasingly unsettled because seemingly no attention has been paid to recommendations made around two years ago, one of which is that the staff at VCBIA should receive salary increases.

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