Protesting Works employees are assured of part payment of outstanding monies ahead of meeting with Labour Minister

A meeting is set for Thursday, April 7, with Labour Minister Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin to discuss the issues that caused Ministry of Works employees to down tools – and following a promise of part-payment by Prime Minister Gaston Browne.

Workers continued their industrial action today, April 6 – this time taking their protest to the Office of the Prime Minister, where they were accompanied by their bargaining agent, the Antigua Trades and Labour Union.

REAL News correspondent George Wehner was on the scene as Ralph Potter, the Union’s industrial relations officer, addressed the protesting men and women.  

Wehner confirms that Prime Minister Gaston Browne showed up briefly at the protest, and advised Potter that the Ministry of Works had named the amount owed to the workers as $300,000.  

Potter later said that figure is grossly understated – since a single person is owed in excess of that sum – and more than $1 million is actually owed to the workers.

Meanwhile, Browne gave a commitment that the Government would pay over a quarter of a million dollars today, April 6, and asked the employees to return to work.  They appeared satisfied by his promise.

Wehner witnessed the exchange and filed this report:

Potter indicated that he would get back to the Prime Minister by midday on Wednesday.  He said he would outline a figure that is acceptable to the workers and sufficient to ensure a return to their duties.

The unpaid overtime dates back over three years.  This, along with several other issues, including the lack of safety gear; workmen’s compensation and insurance; and the mistreatment of workers by a few supervisors led to the employees’ action.