President of the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU), Wigley George said he wants the Antigua and Barbuda Social Security Board to send a strong message to one of its managers who is accused of sexually harassing an employee.
Yesterday, several dozen staff walked off the job demanding disciplinary action be taken against the manager who reportedly inappropriately touched the customer service representative who retaliated by pushing the manager off her.
George said the manager then turned around and tried to report the staff to upper management for using “foul” language.
“The workers said, ‘no, wait a minute, he did something wrong and she is to be punished?’ The staff wants a strong message sent to the board that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated especially from someone who is supposed to be in a position of seniority and management,” the labour leader told OBSERVER media.
When our newsroom arrived at the offices located on Long Street, several employees were still outside expressing their dissatisfaction with the progress of the report since the alleged incident happened “some time ago”.
One employee said that she and her colleagues feel that management and the board are not taking the sexual harassment report seriously and they want the manager who has been in his post for at least a year, removed.
“Women and men need to feel safe and comfortable in their workplace, no one should be harassed. This sort of behaviour is unacceptable and we will stand in solidarity with this lady. When someone decides to go to work the thought of being sexually harassed by anyone should be the last thing on their mind,” she said.
OBSERVER media tried without success to contact David Mathias, the director of the social security board.
Staff are expected back on the job today. However, George said a decision will be made about whether the employees will resume work.
Not all of the operations were affected by the protest action. The customer service department was still functioning and beneficiaries were still able to make inquiries, make payment on accounts and claim benefits.