By Makeida Antonio
Another picket has been added to the recent string of industrial action by public sector workers across the country.
Yesterday, Fiennes Institute staff staged a picket outside the Ministry of Health in St John’s, chanting “we want our money, we want it now”, while holding up placards to demonstrate their frustration.
It’s the second time in a week that workers at the care home have taken their pleas to be recompensed for outstanding overtime to the street.
And it’s the latest protest over owed money in recent days by government workers who also include those from the National Solid Waste Management Authority, Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital, the Care Project, and the Antigua Public Utilities Authority.
Others from the private sector who have recently engaged in similar action include former Jolly Beach Resort and Caribbean Airlines Services staff who are demanding outstanding back pay. And on Monday, staff at the Cocos Hotel in Valley Road refused to work after the resort apparently rejected a proposed EC$14 increase on weekly salaries.
Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA) General Secretary Janella Evanson told Observer during yesterday’s picket that Fiennes Institute staff refuse to accept “hearsay” and need official notification as to when their payments will be made. She also said that more locations will be picketed until staff receive overdue overtime, some of which dates back to 2019.
Meanwhile, ABPSA President Joan Peters shared the opinion that the government should have funds available to remunerate public sector workers despite the pandemic.
“The government says there is no money but you see things are still being done, you see things that can wait. Remember it’s years they owe these people, it’s not just ‘now’ money. Some of these monies have been owed before Covid,” Peters told Observer.
While Peters does not think the government should borrow money to pay workers, she believes that they should be paid in full and on time.
“I didn’t tell them to take out a loan to pay all workers, I am not saying that at all. I am saying, is pay the people, pay them steadily and try to get it over and done with,” she said.
Observer reached out to Junior Minister in the Ministry of Finance Lennox Weston for comment but was unsuccessful up until news time.