By Theresa Goodwin
The government is appealing for more patience from public servants who are mobilising to take action to demand the payment of outstanding overtime.
Minister of State within the Ministry of Finance Lennox Weston issued the appeal yesterday, revealing that the government will be putting together a schedule to cover what is owed to different groups of workers who will be paid over a period of time.
He made the remark hours after staff from the Fiennes Institute nursing home picketed the Treasury Building in St John’s demanding overtime pay which dates back to 2019.
The workers took action with the support of bargaining unit, the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA), after apparently not receiving any definitive word on when the payments would be made.
The only information they said they had received was that the Treasury Department was handling the matter.
“The government is systematically moving to reduce the monies we owe to these groups of workers. We do not want to make the obvious point that revenues fell dramatically during the Covid. Now we are rebounding we are slowly prioritising different workers,” Weston said.
He explained the government will put together a schedule for Fiennes Institute workers to compensate them over the next two to three months.
The minister said while the workers are owed overtime, the government has strived to ensure they received their salaries on time.
Similar payment plans will be developed for quarry workers, people attached to the Public Works Department, and Customs officers who are also owed overtime.
The Fiennes Institute employees told Observer yesterday they had exercised enough patience and were at their wit’s end.
Chanting “No money, no work, “It’s my money and I want it now”, among other things, they highlighted the increased cost of living while not being properly compensated.
In addition to outstanding pay, ABPSA General Secretary Janella Evanson also spoke about problems accessing sanitisers and other basic items needed to ensure proper hygiene. She claims while departments are fully equipped with such items, staff are not receiving them.