Union official says Lovell misinformed about Social Security agreement

Industrial Relations Officer of Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU) Ralph Potter has lashed back at statements made by Minister of Finance Harold Lovell in Parliament on Thursday, regarding the medical and group life insurance for Antigua & Barbuda Social Security Scheme workers.

According to Lovell’s statement, an agreement was reached in principle for employees to pay part of their premium. He said the only thing not agreed upon, was how much their contribution would be.

The finance minister said management had agreed to continue paying the entire premium until April 2011, when the contract expires.

However, at a press conference yesterday, Potter said Lovell was misinformed when he stated that an agreement has been reached between the unions and Social Security Scheme.

In fact, Potter said this couldn’t be further from the truth.

“When the minister said in Parliament that there was an agreement for Social Security to pay the life insurance coverage for the staff until next year and that there is an agreement to split the cost of the medical insurance between Social Security and the employees, to commence on the life of the new contract … the minister obviously was misinformed, there was no agreement to split the cost,” Potter said yesterday.

“There was never any agreement, so the minister’s assertion that these matters were agreed to is not true,” he added.

Potter said as far as he was concerned, discussions were ongoing to resolve the medical insurance aspect.

He noted that several meetings have already been held. However, there seems to be no definite move to resolve the impasse although workers have returned to their jobs.

Meanwhile, on the issue of salary increases, Potter said that the AT&LU and Social Security representatives had reached an agreement in principle, to a 9 per cent increase over a three-year period.

However, when the union representatives turned up for the May 21 meeting to discuss the matter further, Potter said they were told that all of the proposals were rejected.

“When we turned up to the meeting, we were advised that the board had met the previous evening and all the proposals were rejected,” Potter said. He said he was confident that the matter would have met with the board’s approval.

“It was agreed (to) in principle at a meeting on (May 9), with two members of the negotiating team who are members of the board. One such member is the deputy chairman of the (Social Security) board,” he added. “They would have been au fait as to where the board was leaning because they are members of the board.”

The matter is now before the labour minister.

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