The head of the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU) is accusing trade unions of “unnecessarily” riling up workers to protest against the government.
Wigley George, president of the AT&LU was speaking at a Labour Day Rally yesterday when he accused the Trade Union Congress (TUC), which is the umbrella body for all trade unions in Antigua and Barbuda, of being secretive about its support for the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) which is directly linked to the Antigua Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU).
“I was shocked this morning when I got the message that the Trade Union Congress, that is supposed to be the umbrella body of all trade unions, would have been dragged down to the ABWU’s office, away from a private meeting to join them [the ABWU] at their meeting,” George told AT&LU supporters who gathered at the V.C Bird monument on Monday morning.
He further stated: “You see what was taking place prior to the elections, you see what was taking place after the elections. This goes to show you that operatives in the trade union movement will always go on the wrong side to support people and leave the workers out.”
According to George, it is known publicly that the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) was formed out of the AT&LU, however, the union has never failed to stand up against the government to advocate for what is right.
He also expressed disappointment with the manner in which the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA) has been handling on-going negotiations for salary increases and outstanding back-pay for public servants.
George said that while he understands that back-pay is an entitlement, if the government does not have the finances to pay all that is outstanding, there should be a compromise.
“Gaston Browne told them he would have offered one month’s salary in one case and another month and a half in another case. That was bandied about for some time and he also hinted that he could also go beyond a month and a half to two months.
“They did not want to listen to that, they wanted to make sure that they had something to hold on to so that they can agitate workers in this country…the very workers that they are supposed to be encouraging to become productive,” George said.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)