Public servants have given the Gaston Browne-led administration until March 26 to respond with certainty about how the government will address salary concerns, or the workers will be off the job again.
Yesterday, OBSERVER media counted over 180 workers who assembled at the Victoria Botanical Gardens for a meeting with the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association to plan the way forward.
PM Browne and Samantha Marshall, the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party’s candidate for St. Mary’s South, turned up at the meeting.
Sandra Williams, general secretary of the ABPSA informed OBSERVER media that the duo had not been invited to the meeting and the ABPSA membership was not initially pleased by their intrusion.
She said that some workers who were going to the meeting turned back because they felt intimidated by the prime minister and Marshall’s presence.
“We convened a meeting with our membership re the negotiating issue and the back pay arrears that the government refused to pay us, and the prime minister and Samatha Marshall showed up at our private meeting to intimidate workers in the public sector,” Williams told OBSERVER media.
The ABPSA had called for an emergency meeting of all public servants on Friday and the prime minister said he learned of the intended gathering on Thursday night and he felt the need to attend.
Browne promised the workers to address the inequities while pointing out that the public service is burdened with 10,000 staff when only 3,000 people can do the jobs.
He also admitted there is a $1,000 pay gap between the non-established workers and their established counterparts.
“You do not need to protest against my government to ensure there is equity. I am giving you the assurance that on an ongoing basis we will make adjustments and we will close the gaps and that we ultimately increase your income. One of the reasons we made the five percent across the public service was to address the issue of inflation during our tenure. Within our tenure inflation would have been less than five percent,” Browne said.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)