The government is facing contempt of court charges and an imminent picket for monies owed to eight immigration officers dating back to 2007.
The workers never received their additional pay for taking on ‘acting supervisor’ roles during the Cricket World Cup, which at the time amounted to a mere $8,000. The money is said to be lawfully due to them under a collective bargaining agreement.
After years of being unpaid, their bargaining agent the Antigua and Barbuda Free Trade Union took the matter to the industrial court which ruled last year that the workers were to be paid by November 2022.
The government has not yet paid a cent towards it and, with interest, the amount owed is now around $30,000.
Union President Samuel James told Observer yesterday that he will be taking decisive action on behalf of the workers.
“There are different steps that can be taken. We may have to go back to the Industrial Court with a contempt proceeding to bring the relevant persons to contempt of court and, number two, I will speak to our clients that we will go in front of the AG’s office and the Treasury department and picket until such time where we receive the payments that are legally due.
“What is going on in this country is just not right. What happens to the little workers in this country? Nobody cares?” James asked.
There is no specific timeline for when that picket will take place but James did confirm it will happen.
He further revealed that he will also go forward in preparing the papers to take to the court.
James said the government continues to have “scant regard for court orders”.
“It can’t be that they should have made this payment since November 30 2022 and we are still waiting in March, or have any definitive date as to when is it the payment is going to be made to the employees.
“The last thing that we are hearing is that somebody might have misplaced the document at the Treasury. I am not in a position to confirm that but that’s the last information that was brought to our attention.
“But whatever it is, we are calling on the Attorney General’s chambers, the Treasury Department and the Immigration Department to do what they have to do to ensure that the payments are made to the employees as soon as possible,” he said.
Furthermore, James claimed that when it comes to the rights of employees, the government continues to be the highest lawbreaker.
“We are just simply tired of the situation where employers, and in this case the government, seems not to have any appetite to meet their obligations to employees and in particular when court issues orders for the government as an employer to make certain payments. It has to stop,” he admonished.