End in sight for public servants’ back pay issue

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The Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA) has finally agreed to a compromise as it relates to outstanding back pay for public sector workers.
It is hoped that this will bring an end to months of back and forth talks with the government.
The union has accepted the government’s final offer of two months of tax-free salary for employees who qualify, which is expected to erase any further obligations thereafter to government workers.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne placed the final proposal on the table in April, after the ABPSA rejected the government’s initial offer of one month’s back pay, contending that it was inadequate.
President of the ABPSA Joan Peters said the union changed its position during a meeting with the government’s negotiating team earlier this month.
“We have accepted the offer and we are asking the government to pay the full two months by September 30,” Peters said during a brief interview with our newsroom.
The union official did not provide any further detail on the matter, noting that the union is awaiting feedback from the government’s team.
When he made the second offer in April, PM Browne expressed hope that good sense would prevail and that an agreement would be reached.
He also noted that while he accepts that unions must vigorously defend the interest of their members, their demands are sometimes impracticable.
“Our funding gap for this year is over $400 million and still we are working to make payments to the various unions. There has to be some level of understanding otherwise we are going to bankrupt the country and everything will come to a halt and we do not need that type of aggravation at this time,” Browne said.

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