Workers demand removal of Port bosses

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Over 100 administration staff from the Antigua Port Authority walked off the job yesterday morning and marched in the rain to the Office of the Prime Minister to vent their frustration with management, and over unpaid back pay, among other issues.
OBSERVER media was told that the action was taken after the situation reached boiling point on Wednesday when a senior member of staff reportedly assaulted a subordinate who is employed as a mechanic.
The striking workers said that they are fed up of being disrespected and spoken down to by management and senior members of staff and they are not returning to work until their concerns have been addressed.
“All of them must go. They have no respect for people. They want to speak to us like we are children and we are not prepared to put up with this anymore,” one worker shouted to the media.
Protesting workers
said on Wednesday the mechanic, who is also their shop steward was clocking out after he was instructed to leave the port — because it was believed that he led a delegation to the union — when he was accosted by Port Manager Darwin Telemaque.
When contacted by OBSERVER media yesterday, Telemaque said that he was well within his right to “arrest” staff mechanic Armin Henry.
He provided our newsroom with the section of the Port Authority Act, under the offences title, that he said supported his claim.
The act states that, “Any authorised employee who has been given authority under the provisions of this Act or any regulations made thereunder to maintain order upon any premises of the Authority, or in any harbour, ship or vehicle used by or for the purposes of the Authority, shall, in the performance of such duty have all the powers, rights, privileges, and protection of a member of the Police Force.”
However, the workers said Telemaque has no right to “assault” Henry who was only following instructions when he was asked to leave the port.
OBSERVER was told that Henry was clocking out at the palm reader when Telemaque “grabbed his hand,” and tried to escort him off the compound. Henry has since filed a report at the police station.
The workers marched straight to the door of the prime minister’s office, before they were instructed by police to go outside the main gate.
They said, in addition to the dispute that led to the industrial action, they have been awaiting back-pay for raises they would have earned since 2009.
At a recent meeting with the Antigua Trades and Labour Union, the workers said they learned that an agreement was reached with management for them to get back pay for only three years from 2016, instead of the nine years for which they were lobbying.
The disgruntled workers said they were not in agreement and they will not be robbed of six years’ back pay.
A contingent of about a dozen staff was selected to meet with Prime Minister Gaston Browne, but the outcome was not known up to the end of the day.
The workers who protested were from the administration, marine, maintenance departments and tally clerks, longshoremen, and timekeepers.

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