Workers advised to protest reduced work week

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The Antigua Trades & Labour Union (AT&LU) has advised workers at the Agriculture Development Corporation (ADC) to  protest against a shortened work week that has been in place for some time.
ADC, commonly referred to as, Diamonds Estate, is a government facility, which produces vegetables.
The AT&LU, the bargaining agent for ADC workers, has argued that the shortened week, without an end date, will affect the terms and conditions of the employees’ contracts.
General Secretary Hugh Joseph said the reduction in the work week has also continued despite objections from the union.
“We have maintained that that is unacceptable and management is now seeking to divide and conquer by putting some persons, who are not supporting the union on five days and others who are most vocal were placed on three days,” Joseph said.
“Some of the workers are not even aware they are being placed on a shorter work week. Recently a lady showed up for work on a Monday, only to hear from a supervisor that she was not expected at work until the following Wednesday,” he added.
Joseph said the management of the government run corporation is fully aware of the union’s concerns.
He said it also appears  as though the management at ADC has ignored a recommendation to implement a voluntary severance package if the corporation is unable to maintain its current staff complement.
The union is expected to hold talks with the workers sometime today to determine the next course of action.
Meantime, Chairman of the ADC Board of Directors Randy Baltimore has deferred comment on the ongoing matter with  the union until a later date.
He, however, told OBSERVER media that the reduction in the work week was introduced prior to the set up of the new board in 2014.
Baltimore said the situation has improved somewhat, with workers being placed on a five day rotation once production levels are good.
He said the workers are advised on every level when changes are made.
The corporation has a history of low production and financial issues which affected its staff count. In November 2015, the corporation laid off nine workers for a three-month period. Seven of them returned to work in February 2016, while two opted for voluntary severance, which was granted.
In, July, a rotation system, that required the employees to work one week on and one week off, was also implemeted at the 120-acre Diamonds Estate.
By March 2016, it appeared as though the economic fortunes at the facility had turned around with Baltimore announcing “steady progress” in production. But, this only lasted a short period.

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