PM ready for a hard talk over future of quarries’ management

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Despite anticipated push back from quarry workers over the possible move to corporatise the operations, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said he would rather deal with that, get it over with and see increased productivity.
He said this may be a necessary step – corporatisation – so as to carry roadworks and other construction projects across Antigua and Barbuda.
Currently, the quarries are owned and managed/operated by the government. Corporatisation though, is the process of transforming state assets, government agencies, or municipal organisations into corporations. It refers to a restructuring of government and public organisations into their administration.
The prime minister said low productivity and consistent “industrial problems” at the Burma and Bendals quarries are hampering progress due to the lack of aggregates – materials used for building roads and other construction work.
He said the issue is occupying the attention of the Cabinet and the unions representing workers at the two quarries will be called in shortly to see how best productivity can be increased.
Having said the latter on his radio station over the weekend, he went on to disclose the option of corporatising the entities.
“We are looking at the possibility of even corporatising. The government will remain the full owner of the facility but get private management to manage the facility because if you consistently have a situation where you have industrial problems with the workers at these quarries and you’re only getting 10 percent capacity we can’t continue to function like,” he said.
According to him, over the next 18 months, the requirement for aggregates would be “unprecedented based on the road programme we are doing plus all the construction taking place.”
At the same time, the country’s leader said his government “will do what is necessary to protect the interest of the workers but this whole idea that they can hold us hostage for fortune, that’s going to come to an end.”
He highlighted the airport project in Barbuda a major government initiative being affected “because they can’t get aggregates.” BHM – Bahamas Hotmix Company is the company contracted to build the Barbuda runway but has to get aggregates from the Antigua based quarries.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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