Although a part of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), members of the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers(ABUT) boycotted the TUC march/rally on Labour Day. President of ABUT, Ashworth Azille, explained the reason for the absence of the union at the proceedings, in an interview on OBSERVER AM.
Azille said: “We do maintain a great sense of solidarity amongst all our trade unions in Antigua and Barbuda, however… our organisation took the decision to not participate in yesterday’s rally because, in our minds, it went against the very thing we have been fighting for and remaining true to for the last several years.”
“We have always maintained, as an organisation, that we will not place ourselves and our membership in any environment where there is that strong political presence. We believe in being non-political, non-partisan in everything that we do, and though others tried to convince us that it would not be that this year, we thought on a matter of principle, that we would not participate,” he added.
Azille explained that although the trade unions are politically aligned he does not feel that Labour Day should be about political affairs. He stated that the proceedings should have been scheduled to take place in a neutral environment so as not to alienate any union member.
“Over the last several years we have been through thick and thin with the Trade Union Congress ensuring we can create a space for trade unions to organise themselves in a non-political atmosphere where workers of every persuasion can feel inclined to come out and give attention to the issues they are facing in the workplace,” Azille said.
According to Azille, the ABUT continues to be a part of the TUC but decided to note its displeasure with the decision of the executive of that organisation because its members believe it is important to find a “mutual venue.”
Azille added: “Hopefully we would be able to unhinge the minds of persons who have come to believe that Labour Day is about them and their political parties… Labour Day is about workers and not about parties.”
The TUC is the umbrella body for all trade unions in Antigua and Barbuda. ABUT is a part of the TUC and is one of the oldest labour organisations in the country.
The ABUT is celebrating its 91st anniversary this week under the theme, “Uniting and Leading the Way to Transformation in Education.”