Employers encouraged to respect the law on polling day

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The Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) is reminding employers that it is an offense to make it difficult for a worker to cast their ballot on Election Day, March 21.
David Massiah, general secretary of the union, said that according to section 34 of the Representation of the People Amendment Act, 2001, every voter is allowed a period of four consecutive hours for voting.
The legislation also indicates that employers are not to deduct those four hours from workers’ pay nor are they to penalise workers in any other way.
And, an employer who does either is committing an offence, and, if found guilty, can be fined up to $3,000.
The union official said the appeal follows a series of complaints from workers within the hotel industry and other sectors concerning their rights on polling day.
“I think that it [the law] is very clear, and we should not be playing with the process. What employers and employees have to do is to ensure that the operation is covered. Employers must create a schedule for employees to know who is going to go when and how the schedule will be operated,” Massiah said.
Additionally, the union official told workers that if they are finished voting before the allotted four hours are up, they should return to work.
“If you are not going to be participating, do not directly do as you like on that particular day. There is a time you must co-operate with the employer. So, I am asking workers to have some understanding; use the time wisely and do so responsibly,” Massiah said.
Weeks ago, the Labour Department and an official from the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU) made a similar appeal to employers.

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