Minister accuses ABS workers of cheating the system, as strike continues

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As the protest action taken by workers of the state owned broadcasting station — ABS Radio and Television — continued into the second straight day, Minister of Information, Broadcasting and Telecommunications Melford Nicholas has accused them of stealing time from the entity to work elsewhere. Nicholas, who said he was initially surprised by the action taken by some workers, went on even further to state that he believed this was the true reason behind the industrial action and not the earlier claims made by the staff.
“The obligation is to each and every employee who comes to work for ABS. We are a high-performance organization and much is required of us publicly. They must be prepared to give a fair day’s work. There can be no conflict with respect to people cheating on the government’s time and going and working at other locations. And so this is, to my mind, the substance of the issue.” He warned that this type this behaviour will no longer be tolerated. “I will seek out the senior executive of the trade union to try to come to some position in respect to this, but what we will not tolerate is the level of ill-discipline with the level of time-cheating that has been taking place.”
When the ABS workers first staged the protest on Thursday, other employees at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and staff at the GATE facility in Coolidge also signalled their intention to join in solidarity with ABS workers to push for issues which also affect them. However, the telecommunications minister said that their move was also not justified. “I can safely say that based on the information that I have coming to me, that I have heard some grumblings to some objections persons may have had about some disciplinary measures that had to be meted out to a number of individuals, and I want to put those individuals on notice that I am very firm in my commitment that the government must be able to get its pound of flesh for the services that it has to provide.
“Persons who come to work for the station must be able to give an honest day’s work,” he stressed. Acting on the advice of the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU), the workers at ABS refused to work yesterday and, instead, gathered outside their workplace which is located on Cross Street.
Shop Steward Kerrio Adams told OBSERVER media that the video editors, reporters, technicians and other staff members are advocating for outstanding overtime pay and better working conditions alongside other issues. Adams also noted that a meeting has not yet been set with the minister to discuss the ongoing debacle.

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