Head of public sector transformation open to dialogue with unions

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St. John’s Antigua- Director of the Public Sector Transformation Unit Konata Lee said the unit is open to dialogue with trade unions on the plans to merge established and non-established workers.

This follows concerns raised by President of the Antigua Trades & Labour Union (AT&LU) Wigley George, that the merger of the two categories of workers would be detrimental to the future of the 76-year-old institution, which represents some 4,000 non-established workers.

George used the union’s Labour Day Platform to speak out against the move. He also accused government of attempting to undermine the operations of the organisation.

Lee, who refused to go in a head-to-head debate with the union representative, said there is a lot of misconception about the process.

He said the unit was prepared to address the concerns of all the relevant stakeholders.

Meantime, the association representing public servants on the island, said trade unions would only lose out on the negotiating fee paid on the behalf of employees.

President of the Public Service Association (PSA) Janill Whenner said once there is a merger, union dues would automatically go to the PSA.

She said, however, once the process goes through, a public servant would still be able to choose their bargaining agent outside of the PSA’s representation.

“If two-thirds of the majority says we want AT&LU to represent them, then AT&LU can represent them,” Whenner said. “Outside of that they would fall under the ambit of the Public Service Association.”

The Public Sector Transformation programme, according to government officials, is expected to enhance adults’ ability to find and maintain a job by addressing existing labour market deficiencies.

It is also expected to facilitate better management of public sector human resources and enhance the country’s capacity to formulate and implement social sector policies.

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