The deadline is 10:30 am on Tuesday. If the workers are not met with a letter that firmly indicates a date for their collectively bargained, and agreed upon, salary increases, promised strike action at the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board (ABTB) will ensue on Tuesday.
Over 80 irate workers of the Transport Board made their way down to the offices of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) on Friday as they refused to work one more day without the payment of a long-awaited pay increase.
A letter to the Transport Board from the union, stated that, “we are disappointed that although we have accepted your proposed salary increase and we had asked that it be applied by 1st November 2019, and this was not done”.
Correspondence from the ABTB’s Human Resource Manager, Taisha York, dated December 2, 2019 responded that “management cannot confirm, at this time, a date for the salary increase to take effect. The start date of the salary increase is contingent upon the Board’s final approval to effect this payment.”
ABWU General Secretary, David Matthias, said, “we can’t continue this way because the workers have been waiting for the past two to three years now to get some adjustment to their pay.”
Negotiations surrounding the pay increases actually began back in 2015.
However, a Transport Board letter to the union, which was dated November 11th 2019, confirmed the union’s expectation for the salary increase, as it stated: “We thank you for accepting the salary increase proposal of 5%, to be shared 3% for 2019 and 2% for 2020.”
Though all of the workers did not make their way down to the union’s Freedom Hall base on Friday, the ABWU and the workers in attendance did promise to galvanise all of the workers at the ABTB to arrange a full out strike, should they not get a favourable response by the management at the end of the day.
Addressing the workers on Friday morning, ABWU President, Kem Riley, declared “that if [the management] doesn’t recognise what’s happening, then, next week, they must feel it.”
“If they don’t give us the increase that they would have proposed to us,” Riley added, “and we’re still waiting on them to call us to meet… Then, Tuesday next week, we’ll be back again. And this time, we will be staring them in the face.”
A thrift fund, the Transport Board retirement policy, and death in service benefits are among the other items on the union’s agenda with the ABTB.
The Transport Board’s permanent secretary, the human resource manager and the general manager all met yesterday afternoon and an assurance that the promised increases will begin before Christmas of this year was given.