Short-lived protest at Ministry of Works

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The management of the Ministry of Works buckled to pressure from disgruntled workers, who staged a brief sit-in on Monday to demand a meeting to discuss stalled upgrades, overtime payment and other benefits.
Close to 100 workers from several departments within the ministry converged outside the headquarters of the government department in protest over the failure by management to reschedule a planned meeting with their bargaining unit, the Antigua Trades & Labour Union (AT&LU).
Yesterday, AT&LU’s Industrial Relations Officer Ralph Potter told OBSERVER media that both sides were due to meet for talks within the latter part of February.
However, he said the Ministry of Works management cancelled the meeting and failed to reschedule.
As a result, and with the support of the union, the workers turned up on Monday to demand the meeting.
A few hours after the workers from the quarries, road, maintenance and other departments, assembled and parked their vehicles, blocking off the intersection, creating an undesirable atmosphere on upper St John’s Street, a meeting date was set.
“We now have two meetings scheduled for next week Monday and Wednesday to get the process going. It was just a situation we felt was necessary to send a message to the management of Public Works that we are serious and we need to get the process started,” Potter said.
The union official said the matter was an issue that the Ministry of Works could have addressed on its own, but when it failed to do so, the union intervened.
One worker, who did not wish to be named said his colleagues felt disrespected by the entire ordeal.
“They treat the workers like we are dogs. Thirty people from the Central Board of Health stood up weeks ago, and got justice, and nearly 80 people right here and we still can’t get nothing,” the man said.
Potter is optimistic that the matters affecting the workers will be addressed during the meetings next week.

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