In both rhetoric and actions, the Browne Administration has been
the most abusive and anti-union government in the history of this
country, says the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU)
President, Kem Riley. And, ironically, he adds, it is a “labour”
Riley was addressing delegates, on Sunday, September 17, at the
ABWU’s 56th Delegates Conference.
Unions play a pivotal role in safeguarding the rights of workers;
ensuring fair labour practices; and promoting economic equality.
However, Riley says, across the globe there have been instances of
attacks on unions and, by extension, the trade-union movement, and
these pose serious threats to the well-being of workers and their
He notes that, locally, in spite of the contributions that unions have
made to the social and economic landscape, they are still coming
under attack and still accused of being unreasonable in their
According to Riley, it is the view of Prime Minister Gaston Browne
that unions have become too powerful – because they are now
financially able to represent their members at all stages of the
He says the Workers Union is convinced that the Government’s
attacks stem from the Union’s disagreement with its mandatory-
vaccination policy during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Riley notes, as well, the recent attacks levelled at members of the
Union over its request for severance for former LIAT and CAS
workers, and for negotiating better standards of work for employees
at the Antigua Port Authority.
The Union president says these attacks will have significant
implications for the wider society and put workers’ rights at risk.
This will affect not only individuals and their families, he notes, but
will also perpetuate social and economic inequalities in the society.
However, in spite of PM Browne’s behaviour, the Union will not
shirk its responsibilities to its membership, Riley promises.