Editorial: The cupboard is bare

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Seems, many of the hardworking men and women of our fair state – those who lawfully put in overtime work to keep the wheels of government turning, have gone to the cupboard to fetch their bone in overtime pay. Unfortunately, much like the hapless Old Mother Hubbard, they got to the cupboard, only to discover to their dismay, that the cupboard is bare! Say what? An empty cupboard in the supposed, self-described ‘Economic Powerhouse?’ This cannot be!
But alas, we fear that it is! Something is amiss, and it is a dreadful story that, much like a tormenting nightmare, returns on an almost daily basis to haunt the struggling workers who are begging and pleading, nay,  ‘bawlin,’ for their overtime pay. Pick almost any administrative body here in our fair state, from the port to the quarries, to the medical facilities, to the Antigua and Barbuda Broadcasting Service (ABS) to the Central Board of Health (CBH), the lament of the hundreds of workers who are leading lives of desperation is the same – “Please, Massa Wizards of High Finance, give us that which we have rightfully earned. Slavery days are over!”  But their supplications and entreaties are falling on the deaf ears of officialdom – those who can find money to fund joyrides, asinine concerts, family bailouts and all sorts of other self-serving foolishness, but not a dime anteed up for overtime pay, a great deal of which is owed to the longsuffering workers for periods up to, and exceeding, a year. Poor arwe!
Whatever happened to the Biblical, Labour Union, and International Labour Organisation (ILO) principle that, “The workman is worthy of his hire?” Apparently, this administration does not give a damn about that. Indeed, they have given new meaning and life to a paraphrased version of the Antigua Caribbean Liberation Movement (ACLM) slogan from the seventies, “Government doing well, workers catching hell!” It is a crying shame, and it is not difficult to imagine that Papa V.C. Bird and the other venerable gentlemen who fought so valiantly for workers to be treated fairly, with decent wages, must be turning in their graves at what has become of the successor administration (ALP cum ABLP) and their stewardship of that early vision and struggle.
Not surprisingly, the latest in the long string of workers to be the recipient of this dastardly phenomena know colloquially as ‘advantage’ are the Air Traffic Controllers – those hardworking and dedicated men and women tasked with the grave responsibility of keeping our skies safe. Apparently, notwithstanding the fact that this is an essential service, these workers and their long-overdue overtime pay have been treated as a non-essential afterthought. Shaking our heads! They too have gone to the cupboard for their overtime bone, only to be sorely disappointed time and again. Anyway, when the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) staffing requirement at the Air Traffic Control fell below the minimum requirement this past Thursday, management could not get anyone to come in to work overtime and meet that minimum threshold. Hence the Sir V. C. Bird International Airport was closed. The same thing happened this past Friday. How ironic? The airport named for the courageous man who fought for workers rights, was closed because workers rights and remuneration are being trampled underfoot there. Again, we suggest that Papa V.C. can’t rest easy!
We here at NEWSCO stand in solidarity with those workers who have been treated so shabbily by this administration, and we call on Massa Wizards to make good on the monies owed as a matter of urgency. Be true to the vision of your founding fathers! You cannot be living high on the hog, while the people that you profess to care so much about, are begging for crumbs from your sumptuous tables . . . and yes, their overtime bone! Their cupboards are bare!

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