Six former SEMBCORP workers hoping to become full time Antigua Public Utilities Authority
(APUA) employees have been sent home after their temporary contracts ended on May 30.
This occurred because they reportedly declined to sign a permanent contract offered by
APUA which took over ownership of SEMBCORP – which was privately owned – earlier this year.
According to a source in APUA, the workers were among a total of 13 who were offered permanent contracts with the statutory corporation.
The seven who signed the agreement are on the job, but the six reportedly declined to sign amidst questions about which trade union should represent them. They have been sent home at least pending the outcome of negotiations.
A well-placed source in APUA says the main issue of contention is that the Antigua & Barbuda Workers Union, which represented the employees when they worked with
Sembcorp, does not want the workers to be covered by the Antigua Trades & Labour Union.
The APUA source says since a collective bargaining agreement already exists between
APUA and the Labour Union, the workers would automatically be covered with that organization. They are however, free to sign up with any other union they choose.
The ABWU is however challenging this and wants it removed from within the document outlining their contracts. Negotiations are to continue on Wednesday when the management of APUA and the union meets.
APUA assumed ownership of Sembcorp in 2016 and since then, there has been uncertainty about the future employment of the 13 workers there.
During that same period, Minister of Public Utilities Sir Robin Yearwood said talks would likely lead to the workers joining the team at APUA.
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