By Tameika Malone
Aggrieved constructions workers on the government’s Paynters’ building site walked off the job yesterday morning demanding better pay and improved working conditions.
The workers took strike action after two employees were suspended without pay when another worker was caught stealing from the site’s storeroom.
Warington Valentine, spokesperson for the 90-plus National Housing Project workers, said the employees are fed-up.
“We are fighting for our equal rights and justice which is the raise of pay we were promised two years ago. We have all these people working here and some of us don’t get overtime in Paynters and that is the reason these guys decided to stand up, it is not only because of the guy stealing,” Valentine told OBSERVER media.
He explained that the alleged theft was discovered on Friday and the storeroom keeper and an employee of a sub-contractor were suspended for a week, without pay, while the accused thief reported for duty as usual, on Monday.
Deputy General Secretary of the Antigua Barbuda Workers Union, Chester Hughes and Labour Commissioner Eltonia Rojaz met with the workers before they agreed to return to work.
The action started at the start of the 7:30 a.m. shift and the action ended two hours after.
Valentine said the work stoppage is in solidarity with the National Housing Development and Urban Renewal Company Limited employee and the subcontractor who they feel were treated unfairly.
The workers’ concerns also include raise of pay, outstanding overtime, inadequate bathroom facility, lack of running water, late pay, discrepancies in pay calculations, no uniform, and lack of proper safety gear.
“When we come to work and it rains, we are sent home and we only get two hours pay and it’s not right. They are not sending material up here; and then when they finish they say we lazy but we just don’t have the tools and material we need to do the job. We are building the houses and we can’t even afford to buy one because the pay is not enough,” Valentine added.
“We need better pay and better treatment and then they will get more from the workmen because we are not lazy, we love to work.”
(More in today’s Daily Observer)