Lovell and ABWU want gov't to establish unemployment benefit fund

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Political Leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) Harold Lovell, is in support of the call for the establishment of an unemployment fund to cover the basic needs of people who may find themselves out of a job for one reason or another.
Deputy General Secretary of the Antigua & Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) Chester Hughes advocated for the set up of such a fund during a news conference on Monday. The call was made in light of the news that the Sandals Grande Antigua Resort would be closed for five months effective September 20th, 2017, for “essential maintenance works”.
Over 700 workers will be affected by the temporary closure.
“The government needs to establish an unemployment benefit fund which can be administered through the Antigua & Barbuda Social Security Scheme to support the affected workers. This is to ensure that they will be able to get some sort of benefit in the interim,” Lovell said during Monday evening’s edition of the Snake Pit.
On Monday, Hughes suggested that with the fund, people who are unemployed would receive a flat rate paid to them up to a period of time for about six months until they are able to secure employment.
He said the fund could be managed by various stakeholders with knowledge of industrial relations and accounting expertise and also government representatives.
“It would be established by a board so that a company would advise that they will be closed for a period and assistance would come forward,” Hughes said.
“Unless we establish a fund we are going to continuously see persons going home; the bills going up; things are going to be happening and there is no income,” the union official added.
Several stakeholders; business owners and members of the public have expressed shock at the temporary closure of the resort. Prime Minister Gaston Browne also said that the closure of the resort is “an act of hostility and sabotage”.

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