By Carlena Knight
Union reps for line staff at the Caribbean Union Bank (CUB) said they will await the latest recommendations from the Ministry of Labour before determining what their next step of action will be.
This is according to President of the Antigua and Barbuda Free Trade Union, Samuel James, who met with the bank’s management and a representative from the Ministry of Labour yesterday to discuss a way forward.
While James did not wish to go into details of the meeting, he voiced his disappointment over CUB management’s alleged lack of reasoning regarding several matters that the staff have requested be resolved.
“We were disappointed in terms of the content of the meeting, in terms of the level of the movement that were made, which was close to nothing,” he said.
“So, whether or not there were serious attempts to bring some resolution to the outstanding issues, we don’t think so. We don’t think that at least two or three of the items should have been controversial items in any event.
“I think the only matter that we could accept would have been a controversial issue of the salaries,” James explained.
“These are matters that have been widely practiced in collective agreements throughout the course of Antigua and Barbuda, it is what we refer to as standard industrial relations practice and so once it is a standard practice then we don’t think the parties should have been fighting over those issues like if we are trying to re-invent the wheel or trying to create new things that are unjustified.”
Despite it all, James said they will await the recommendations that will be put forward before deciding on their next course of action.
“We will await the recommendations of the Minister of Labour in terms of how they see the way forward, and as the workers’ representative, we will know where we go from there,” he said.
There is no exact timeframe for when these recommendations will be handed down, but James is hopeful that they will receive the document some time next week.
The negotiations, which began between the two parties in 2019, broke down recently amid claims the bank’s management were dragging their feet.
Staff have been calling for an increase in wages and salaries alongside other issues to include payment for unused sick days, paternity leave, and mutual separation.
Following a meeting between the parties during the week of the August 4 protest, the Labour Department submitted several recommendations to both management and workers as a consensus could not be reached, but those recommendations were rejected by both parties.
Since then, CUB workers have taken further industrial action resulting in the Friars Hill Road branch being closed last week.
The bank’s management has not responded to several requests for comment.