Prime Minister Gaston Browne says he has given the Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force notice that they may be needed in the face of threats by port workers to lock down the facility.
“Based on the threats that they would have made, we had to position ourselves to take defensive action to ensure that there is no disruption so the services at the port.”
“So I had placed the defense force on notice that we may be in need of man power in the event they decide to take industrial action and to seek lockdown the port.”
“I have also spoken to the distinguished Attorney General who has also prepared an order under section 4, subsection 2, of the Central Services act to prevent any disruption to the services there,” the PM told Pointe FM.
Browne says the workers are upset that they have not been granted an annual bonus of 5 percent and have threatened to escalate industrial action during the busiest period for the port.
The Prime Minister told Pointe FM that the bonus is not compulsory but based on productivity.
Browne said productivity is measured based on output and profitability and the port has seen neither over the last year. In fact, Browne who is also finance minister says the port saw a drop in revenue due to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is understood that is a business is not doing well then a bonus cannot be paid. A bonus is not a salary.”
The port has not been able to meet several of its obligations and has been struggling to pay salaries and wages on time, Browne said.
“They are now threatening to lockdown the port. If they were to lockdown the port that would create a significant amount of problems for a number of people. We have facilitated the importation of 10,000 Barrels as part of the COVID relief.”
Browne said, on Friday staff embarked on a go slow which had the effect of holding back goods “and the union advising us that they going to lockdown the port.”
“We don’t have any difficulty rewarding staff but we have to understand that during this period of COVID, our primary objective is to protect the jobs of our citizens,” he told radio listeners. (Antigua News Room)