As the former Jolly Beach workers and their bargaining agent, the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union (ABWU), continue to verify the quantum of outstanding severance, there is no official word that the payments promised by Prime Minister Gaston Browne were honoured today, October 14.
In a recent announcement, the Cabinet had assured the public that payment would be disbursed within a week to 14 days.
Accordingly, former employees of the resort gathered at the Union’s Newgate Street headquarters on Wednesday, October 12, and on Thursday, October 13, to confirm the amounts they are owed.
By Friday morning, more than 200 workers had verified their outstanding severance amounts.
Chester Hughes, the Union’s Deputy General Secretary, says the ongoing exercise will ensure that all ex-employees are paid what is rightfully owed to them.
Several former staffers are expressing relief that the severance dispute has drawn to a close. One young man, who was employed at the hotel for 10 years, says he is grateful to the Union for its relentless pursuit of the workers’ severance.
“They did a very good job! They stuck with us right through… . I must commend them [for] pounding the Government [and going] through the courts…,” he says.
However, a 62-year-old woman, who gave 12 years of service to the hotel, is disappointed at the protracted course of the dispute.
She says she was sent home for over two years without money; and, in her opinion, the Browne Administration has treated the former workers badly.
The woman, who takes care of her 92-year-old mother, adds that she and her co-workers gave their best to the resort, but were left to languish.
More than 500 employees lost their jobs when the Jolly Beach Resort ceased operations in March 2020, as the pandemic shut down the local tourism industry.
Last week, the Cabinet announced that it has signed an agreement with Elite Island Resorts, through NAMCO, for the renovation and management of the hotel starting in January 2023.
The loan agreement, reportedly, is to the value of US$6 million and allegedly was inked on September 23.
Meanwhile, the United Progressive Party (UPP) Candidate for St. John’s City South, Franz deFreitas, says he has received information that the deal has not been formalized as yet.