Unions dissatisfied after 3 years, one speaks of imminent industrial action

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The heads of two unions say they are not satisfied with the progress made in work relations over the last 3 years of the Gaston Browne administration.
Sandra Williams, President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and her counterpart Karen Josiah of the Antigua and Barbuda Nurses’ Union (ABNU) were in agreement that a lot is left to be desired with respect to improving working conditions of the workers they represent.
Williams bluntly stated, “I am absolutely dissatisfied with any progress as it relates to labour related matters in Antigua for just about the 3 years of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party administration. Very little has been done.
“I can list some of the things that have been done. They were able to pay some outstanding back pay to healthcare workers at the Mount St. Johns Medical Centre and at Clare View Psychiatric Hospital as it related to risk allowance. There have also been some ad hoc increases here and there throughout the service and some movement at air traffic control as it pertains to the purchase of essential equipment. I can’t think of anything else significant that has been done.”
She then went into various pressing concerns that are yet to be addressed by the government. “The whole issue of the case of Elloy de Freitas, the amendment to the civil service act, section 10:2a of act. Remember the 26th of February 1993, Justice Redhead said that particular section is unconstitutional and I have also written to the Attorney General to repeal that section of the civil service act because as we can recall, Cleon Athill was almost charged under that section.”
Williams went on to describe this section of the civil service act as muffling the right of civil servants to express themselves. She recounted that the Attorney General has been reluctant to repeal this section of the act.
The Top union officer further expressed frustration at the lack of negotiations between the government and civil service unions. “By law, we are supposed to be meeting with the establishment department to negotiate and we have not been able for years now to set up any negotiations.” She said. “The government has not said anything to us. They keep making these wild statements and they have not met with the civil service unions and said anything to them. We need to convene negotiations like yesterday.”
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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