We will continue until we are paid, picketers declare

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By Carlena Knight

“We are picketing today and we expect to come back as often as possible until payments are made.” That was the promise made by shop steward for the former employees of the Food Emporium Supermarket, Samuel James who, alongside a contingent of former workers, picketed outside the Fort Road location of Winter Medical Centre on Wednesday morning.

The former workers took the action in a bid to resolve the issue of long overdue payments.

The former business, which was then managed by Dr Andre Winter, officially closed its doors in 2009.

According to reports, the staff at the former Long and Church streets business took industrial action, and in October of 2011 an order was issued by the Court for the workers to receive monies owed to them but since that time, no amount of money has been paid to the 36 employees.

James, who is also the President of the Antigua and Barbuda Free Trade Union, deems the nonpayment unacceptable and therefore prompted the action taken by the group.

“We just cannot allow this travesty to continue. People are sitting down comfortably, perhaps having their own monies, but how about the workers who are in many cases [existing] hand to mouth? I mean it is ridiculous. I am becoming weary; I am becoming tired of this sort of situation in Antigua and Barbuda where people just feel that they don’t need to pay workers. I mean, enough is enough.”

Aother former employee joined with James in airing her frustrations over the blatant lack of accountability, which the principals have shown throughout the 10-year period.

“We understand that there was no money there at the time, but we noticed after a while that they started selling properties. We just learnt that they sold the building that we use to work in so we want our monies now and we have taken it upon ourselves to come out today and do this picketing.”

Although James revealed there has never been any sort of animosity between both bodies, he said the lack of movement by the management for a decade, “cannot be acceptable anymore” and that “pressure” will now be placed on them to do the right thing.

“I have been keeping in touch with the attorneys of the company and at this point in time I am not in a position to say we are expecting money next week, next year, next 10 years, which is why we are here today.

“We have kept quiet for far too long now; we are going to be placing some pressure on the principals of the company so that the employees receive justice. There is no point in having a Labour Code; there is no point in having Labour laws, when simply workers are being disenfranchised.

“There is money. What perhaps is absent is the will to pay. Now, we are trying to force that will. We have waited for far too long and now it’s time for payment. Justice delayed is justice denied and it has been delayed for 10 years, it is now time for the company to make it right,” James concluded. OBSERVER media tried to contact Dr Winter for a response, but our calls proved futile.

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