Tools still idling, as Ministry of Works employees take their protest for overtime pay into Day Two

For a second straight day, employees of the Ministry of Works have taken to the protest line, demanding their overtime money and other related payments.

They have taken their action to the Ministry of Works headquarters to force Minister Lennox Weston and the Browne Administration to pay them what they are owed.  

Reports say the employees are expected to stay off the job for the entire day today, April 5, and have pledged to continue their action until they are satisfied they will be receiving their overtime payments. 

On Monday, April 4, employees at the Government Workshop and at the Hot Mix Plants, as well as truck drivers at the Tomlinson site, downed tools after the Government missed an eight-month payment deadline.

The outstanding money should have been paid last week; but the workers say they were told that salaries were being paid, then, and they would have to wait to receive their overtime.

No date was given for the payment, however, and this prompted the frustrated employees – who reportedly have been owed for years – to stop working.

The workers have highlighted other issues, including the lack of safety gear and equipment and the removal of Selvyn Harley from the Government Workshop and a supervisor from one of the Government quarries.

They also want a review of their risk pay and the long-overdue upgrades.

Reports say the workers’ bargaining agent, the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU), is dealing with the matter.

Union representatives are expected to meet with Government officials this week, and a letter will be dispatched to all shop stewards, informing them of the terms of industrial action and further union negotiations.

These workers’ downing tools could have an impact on the Government’s stepped-up road-repair programme, especially now, when residents are expecting early elections.

Outstanding overtime payments appear to be a chord among public-sector workers, with a number of departments taking to the picket line these past few years.

This protest action closely follows that of ABS workers, who are also demanding overtime and holiday pay that date back about seven years.