Protesting quarry workers set to meet with Labour Minister today

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne (File photo)
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By Makeida Antonio

[email protected]

Ministry of Works employees who have been demonstrating over outstanding overtime pay this week are set to meet with a top government official this morning.

Scores of workers from several departments including transport, roads, quarries, the hot mix plant, and maintenance, are expected to have an audience with Labour Minister Steadroy Benjamin to discuss owed pay and other grievances.

Quarry workers’ shop steward Keithroy Merchant, as well as the Antigua Trades and Labour Union, maintain that an agreement outlining the schedule for payment of outstanding overtime has been breached, triggering the industrial action.

Although Works Minister Lennox Weston told Observer that overtime was being paid on Tuesday, the workers gathered outside the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday to once again demand their money.

Merchant confirmed that while some workers received overtime payments, they remain dissatisfied with the amount and will continue their protest action which began on Monday.

“They paid some overtime [on Tuesday] but what they have paid, the guys are very disgruntled with it,” he explained.

“Workers would have worked a certain amount of hours so the least number of hours is what they looked for and paid the workers [on Tuesday]. That would be the hot mix plant, the workers that produce the asphalt to go on the road, so the hot mix plant workers have received some overtime monies but the monies are unsatisfying for the workers,” Merchant told Observer in an interview.

Cabinet also met at the Prime Minister’s Office while yesterday’s industrial action was taking place.

Merchant revealed details from a conversation between the workers and Prime Minister Gaston Browne as he made his way to the meeting.

“The Prime Minister met us out here standing up, and he came out of his vehicle going to Cabinet and he had a few words with us. We indicated to him what our problems are and he said that he is willing to assist in any way he can to get us back to work.

“We said to him we don’t have a problem with that because we need to speak to someone. We told him what is owed to us. He offered to pay some monies so he can get us back to work,” he said.

Meanwhile, Merchant spoke on behalf of workers who disagreed with members of the public wearing political attire while attending the protest in a show of support. He said the workers would prefer to have a neutral position as it relates to their overtime.

“We don’t want to mix up the politics with the work; that is not what we are here for,” he added.

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