Staff members at the Antigua and Barbuda Broadcasting Service (ABS) downed tools today, March 29, over what many see as political interference and disadvantage of the workers.
For years, ABS staffers have been trying to access overtime payments owed to them. This has resulted in court action, since the station’s management refuses to accept liability.
In October 2021, shop steward Kerrio Adams reports, the Attorney-General wrote to the Industrial Court, asking that the adjudicating panel recuse itself from hearing the matter, citing favoritism towards workers.
At that time, the matter had been before the court for over a year, and it would have required a new panel to hear the case from scratch.
Adams says that in February this year, after reviewing the request, the Industrial Court returned a decision not to remove the panel, based on the law.
He says that, three weeks ago, the attorneys representing ABS hinted that they were going to take their case to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal; however, the workers paid no mind at that time.
When the case was called before the Industrial Court this morning, March 30, Adams says they were informed that the matter could not proceed since an appeal had been filed.
The shop steward says the Court took the time to explain what the whole process would mean – in that, if the appeal went in favour of ABS, the case would have to start all over again.
Adams says the case was already in an advanced stage, as the parties sought to reach agreement on what is owed to the staff.
Adams says that this move by the Government – which essentially stalls the case – is very unfair to workers who have been owed overtime since 2014.
Some workers who have been transferred to other departments and ministries are also owed by the media house.