The Antigua and Barbuda Trade Union Congress (TUC) is refusing to speak publicly about the future of its relationship with the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers (A&BUT), following the teacher’s union boycott on Labour Day and further indication that both unions may soon have to part ways.
Joanne Peters, first vice president of the TUC told OBSERVER media late Thursday evening that she was unable to speak to the media about the matter at this time.
TUC, the umbrella body for all trade unions in the country, joined with the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) at its Newgate Street headquarters on Monday for the Labour Day rally, but the teacher’s union refused to participate.
President of the A&BUT Ashworth Azille spoke about the matter on Thursday when he addressed educators at the union’s Annual Delegates Conference.
He said the union stands by the decision it took on Monday, explaining that while the TUC was noble in its concept to promote solidarity, this does not mean that they will allow the teacher’s union to be influenced by politics or risk tarnishing its reputation.
“The union has no fight with the ABWU, the union has no fight with the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU) or the executive of the TUC. But the union remains an independent and democratic organisation and where we believe that the ideals which we stand for are compromised then we make decisions that is in our best interest,” Azille said.
He said it was under those circumstances that the union decided to stay away from the joint rally.
The president stated further that the A&BUT remains a strong ally to all trade unions and maintains its membership within the TUC.
He however outlined that, “If the leaders of the Trade Union Congress do not see it fit to understand and respect the views of its membership, then its members may have to re-evaluate their continued participation in that body. So perhaps that is a discussion that we must have either today or at some other point.”
The union leader also urged the TUC to re-evaluate its position in order to continue the fight to remain a strong force in the national dialogue on workers’ rights. (Theresa Goodwin)