By Orville Williams
The Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU) is expected to continue discussions with the Labour Department, following an incident yesterday that involved the Labour Commissioner and staff members at the department.
According to reports from unnamed employees, Commissioner Eltonia Rojas got into a verbal altercation with a few staff members about how they were dressed.
The Commissioner was apparently displeased with the fact they were wearing jeans, after she apparently informed the staff the day before that they would not be permitted to wear jeans to work on Fridays.
The issue of jeans-wearing on Fridays was brought up by the Commissioner on previous occasions, the staff who spoke with Observer said, and Rojas had already voiced her disapproval with the practice.
Reports, however, are that an agreement was reached with the staff back in 2020 by Deputy Commissioner Pascal Kentish and Permanent Secretary in the Labour Ministry Stacey Gregg-Paige that jeans could be worn to work on Fridays, so long as the staff looked presentable and the jeans were not distressed.
Yesterday’s altercation was said to result from Rojas asking five staff members who were wearing jeans to leave the building. This reportedly led to a verbal back-and-forth between the Commissioner and a single employee.
Unconfirmed reports say further ruckus was avoided by persons stepping in to separate the two.
Rojas then apparently contacted the police, requesting their assistance in removing the staff members from the premises.
The staff were said to have remained on the premises for a while afterward, on advice from the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA).
The AT&LU then attempted to intervene in the matter via a meeting with the Labour Commissioner, but that was said to have ended inconclusively as the Commissioner apparently had to depart for another meeting.
The two bodies are said to have committed to continuing those discussions and sources say that is likely to happen early next week.
Observer’s attempts to contact the Labour Commissioner for comment were unsuccessful.