Back-pay Finally Paid

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It may have been called a political move to persuade people to support the government’s desire to change the country’s apex court, but public servants were smiling all the way to the bank on Tuesday after receiving their long-awaited back pay.
The government followed through on its promise to pay public workers a month’s back pay after almost a-year-and-half of back and forth negotiations with the unions.
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA) Joan Peters told OBSERVER media on Tuesday morning that various ministries were given cheques for their employees.
The entire process, she said, started on Monday. “I think they decided to do it that way to prevent an influx of persons coming to the treasury, so they gave it to the various ministries,” she said.
But even in the midst of the payout, Peters said she has a disappointment because there was no official communique from the government about when the backpay would be issued.
“They never wrote to us. We heard on the streets like everybody. We have nothing official in our hands and so that is why I am disappointed,” she said.
Meanwhile, General Secretary of ABPSA Sandra Williams blasted the Cabinet for deciding to issue the back-cheques on Referendum Day, likening it to prostituting public servants.
“It’s like economic prostitution, bribery, and the cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda should go to prison. I am not saying that we shouldn’t get our money but don’t prostitute public officers,” she told OBSERVER media.
The employees were  paid one month of the current gross basic salary in lieu of outstanding collective bargaining contracts for the period January, 2003 to December 31 2017.
They are also to be paid one month of the current gross basic salary in lieu of outstanding back pay for persons employed in the public service between June 2000 to December 2004.
The employees represented by ABPSA should have been employed for not less than one year during each of the above stated periods to qualify for payment. (Shermain Bique-Charles)

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