ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Union representatives are complaining that the task of fighting for wage increases on behalf of workers in Antigua & Barbuda is becoming increasingly difficult.
As such, one union boss has concluded that workers need to educate themselves so as to give power and validity to their demands.
Speaking at the rally of the Antigua & Barbuda Trade Union Congress on the 61st anniversary celebration of Labour Day yesterday, president Kim Burdon said years ago, unions were able to negotiate six to 10 per cent per cent hikes per annum for workers without much difficulty. But with the ongoing worldwide recession, employers are fighting against such moves.
“We must educate ourselves as the means to demand better pay,” he said.
“What we were able to achieve in the past is now increasingly difficult to accomplish. But this is not a death sentence; it just means that we all will have to step up our game.”
Burdon said he and the union are looking at the situation in a realistic manner, recognising Antigua & Barbuda “desperately” needs to improve its base of technical, vocational and customer service skills.
“In recent times, a lot of employers are not willing, even if they are able to put out that kind of increase across the board,” Burdon said.
“So it means that in order for workers to make a substantially bigger salary they have to bring something more to the table and I and the TUC are advocating that development, personal development, is one of the answers to this problem.”
The union boss said he is very passionate and committed to workers’ rights, their development and their progress. However, he said he would not give them false hope.
“I have to be a realist. There is no point in telling workers things you can not provide. We have no choice but to step up,” Burdon said.
“By bringing more to the table, we are able to demand more.
“Also, workers must recognise their talents and pursue them so they can be more productive in what they do rather than sitting in a job for 20 years when they lack what it takes to do that job.”
The union official said the Antigua & Barbuda Trade Union Congress has to find a way to study the workforce and help employees find their niches and fit them into the relevant work field.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)