Meeting between ABWU and Cost Pro delayed; so, evidence of business slowdown that would justify reduced work hours not presented yet

“Logistics” has been cited as the reason behind the delay for a meeting
between the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union (ABWU) and the
management of Cost Pro supermarket.

Following industrial action on Monday June 3, a meeting was scheduled so
that the supermarket could substantiate to the Union its claim of business
being slow.

At the time, industrial relations officer Hugh Joseph had reported that Cost
Pro was planning to reduce the work hours of some employees without the
requisite consultation with the Union and securing its prior agreement.
Joseph said this meeting was intended to give the Union a clearer
understanding of the company’s claims of a financial falloff, and to determine
whether the proposal of a reduced work week was warranted.

Apparently, the supermarket does business with a number of hotels; and now
that the 2023-2024 tourist season has ended – and the resorts are going
through their “slow season” – the volume of their purchases has been reduced,
given that the number of guests has dwindled.

As a result of the resorts not buying at the same rate, the Union says the
supermarket decided that it does not need the same number of workers at the
workplace at any one time.

However, the Union considered that the notice with respect to the reduced
work hours – which went from 44 hours a week, based on their collective
bargaining agreement, to 40 hours – was short.
The Union argued, then, that management should have held discussions with
the workers’ bargaining agent, instead of simply sending out a notice or a
memo to say, ‘This is now the position.’

According to the Workers’ Union, the supermarket needs to show where it is
losing – resulting in the slowdown of business. This will allow the bargaining
agent to meet with the employees and update them, after having seen the
evidence and getting a clearer understanding of why this step is being taken.

The union notes, as well, that it has to be fair to the business, making sure it
survives, rather than pushing it out of existence by demanding that it must
retain each person even when it is unable to meet the payroll.