PM Browne urges hotel workers to form their own union

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne is urging hotel workers to break away from existing trade unions and to form their own organisation to advocate on their behalf.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, he said this is urgently needed, as he reflected on a number of matters, to include the annual situation of hotels closing and more particularly, the recent announcement by Sandals Grande resort to close for several months for maintenance work. This would affect over 700 of the hotel’s workers.
“I am speaking specifically to the hotel workers, you need to take steps today to protect your own interest because the representation has been found wanting. You have the numbers to form yourselves into your own trade union movement.”
“And, I want to recommend that the hotel workers, their shop stewards and others, that they form themselves into the Antigua & Barbuda Hotel Union,” he said.
The country’s leader said his Cabinet had been pleading with Sandals Grande to reduce its closing period so it does not extend beyond December 2017. The initial timeframe set by the hotel was a period of up to five months.
But, the hotel, after talks with the government and the Antigua Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU), said it would work towards completing the work within three months.
PM Browne, expressed dissatisfaction with the entire process of negotiations and criticised the hotel for giving the Union the credit for making the decision to reduce the time, as he contended that this was the very proposal he made even before the union and hotel met.
While his criticism was admittedly “measured” so as to “avoid an acrimonious relationship” with the government and the hotel “in the interest of the workers”, PM Browne didn’t hold back on calling out the ABWU.
He said the union has not adequately represented the workers who are to be laid off and would therefore lose their source of income.
He offered the workers “assistance from my government, financial assistance from my government” so they could set up their own union.
Browne added, “We must have representation to ensure that the staff in this country are adequately trained to ensure that there is a succession plan so that Antiguans & Barbudans can control the top echelons of Sandals.”
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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