ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The Antigua Trade and Labour Union (AT&LU) said it would be forging ahead to challenge last week’s axing of four Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) who were sent home without severance.
Negotiator for the aggrieved workers, Alrick Daniel, who met with the statutory corporation’s management on Wednesday, said the issue remains unresolved and the union would be bringing the matter before the labour commissioner because the parties were unable to come to an agreement.
Daniel said the union had been informed that APUA was in the process of transforming its call centre to an information centre and, during that process, workers’ performance would have been assessed.
The AT&LU representative said APUA indicated that the workers would have fallen short on three occasions – and a decision was taken to terminate their service and each was handed a cheque for salaries until July 10 and outstanding vacation days, however, no severance was paid.
“We were aware as a union that management was making some changes to the call centre and we understood they would be assessing the workers. But during previous discussions, management did indicate that if for any reason a worker is not best suited for that type of work then an alternative position would be looked at,” Daniel explained.
During the assessment, workers were informed of areas where they had performed well and areas that needed improvement. But Daniel said the collective agreement speaks to how a worker should be treated when they are no longer performing in a satisfactory manner.
“In terms of what management did and how they terminated the workers, we view it to be very harsh and unfair because there is a collective bargaining agent agreement in place that specifies certain procedures that must be followed when a person is not performing,” Daniel added.
“We are not in agreement with the termination of these workers and it is our intention to challenge this matter,” the union official said.
According to one of the workers, they were all called into a meeting on July 9, told of their termination and issued letters.
“The letters state we have not been performing on the job; we would be paid salary up to July 10 and we would be paid for our unused vacation days,” one worker said. “It said nothing of severance and when we asked about it, we were told we won’t be getting any.”
Four customer service representatives are affected; three female and one male, all of whom have served between four to six years.
Corporate Communications Officer Cathrona Samuel said she had been advised that as the aggrieved workers have opted to challenge their dismissal, the company would not comment on the matter.