Scotia postpones meeting with PM; talks with union set for Monday

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The high-level meeting between Prime Minister Gaston Browne and officials from Scotiabank has been pushed back to an undisclosed later date.
Both parties were expected to meet on Wednesday to discuss the purchase of the bank’s assets in Antigua and Barbuda, but – according to Information Minister Melford Nicholas – that meeting did not take place as scheduled and the date is still pending.
Speaking during Thursday’s Post-Cabinet Press Briefing, Nicholas gave the reasoning behind the postponement.
“It’s just a question of scheduling and getting all of the right participants who would wish to be here, the important persons to be here.
“I believe that Scotiabank indicated that they are prepared to meet with the government on a one-and one-basis, and they have indicated that they have already been in commercial agreement with Republic Bank, and so it would not be in their best interest to enter another third-party talk having regard to those particular agreements,” he said.
Prime Minister Browne has already taken the position that the government will not grant the vesting order to facilitate the bank’s change of ownership unless a consortium of local banks is given the first right of refusal to acquire Scotia’s business and assets in Antigua.
Nicholas reiterated that this remains the government’s ultimate goal.
“I think the stage we are at is trying to get an alignment between the objective of the government and Scotiabank, and I think we are going to have to give it some time for that meeting to take place. I wouldn’t want to speculate any potential outcome at this particular point in time, but only to say that the government is clear in its undertaking and in its objective of what it wants to achieve. But at the end of the day I think good judgement will prevail. We will be in a position to pursue this matter along the lines that we have outlined,” the Minister of Information said.
But while Scotia may have had a change of heart about meeting the Prime Minister at this time – if at all – the bank’s management has committed to holding talks soon with its employees bargaining agent, the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU).
According to the union’s long-serving general secretary, David Massiah, that meeting will take place this coming Monday 14 January 2018 at a time and location he is not at liberty to disclose.
“Our meeting, clearly, is to begin to hear from the bank all that is basically involved in the situation; what is going to happen, going forward, if there is going to be any such situation with Republic [Bank of Trinidad and Tobago],” Massiah stated.
It is not known if Scotiabank’s planned meeting with the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union will have any effect on the previously mooted talks with Prime Minister Gaston Browne.

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