Union official explains the impasse between Hotel Association properties and workers over wage increase

Following the downing of tools, this week, by workers in the hotel industry, Kem Riley, an officer of the Antigua & Barbuda Workers Union, is explaining why the action was taken.

Riley reports that a meeting was held in January to discuss the impact of increased Social Security deductions from the employees’ salaries and the rise in cost of living.

He says the initial proposal was for an increase of $20 per week, but they were willing to accept $14.

Riley says the representatives of the Antigua & Barbuda Hotel & Tourist Association asked for some time to discuss the proposal with the 17 properties under its umbrella.

He says the Union received a letter on January 21, indicating that only three members had accepted the $14 proposal – and that amounted to them asking for a zero increase.

Riley further explains that the hotels had come to the Union in 2020, stating that they had paid off their employees; business was bad; and they were just reopening.  Accordingly, they were requesting a deferral of the 2019 to 2021 negotiated increase. 

He says the Union was reasonable and accepted the request to defer.

Riley points out that, just as the employers have been impacted, hotel workers, too, have suffered through a wage freeze; the ongoing pandemic; and the rising cost of living, and are now ready to move on with the negotiations of 2022 to 2024.