Deputy General Secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union, Chester Hughes, believes that the time has come for the Government of Antigua and Barbuda to introduce Protection of Equity Legislation. Such legislation would safeguard workers’ severance and other benefits should companies become insolvent.
Within the past two years, dozens of businesses throughout Antigua and Barbuda have been forced to close their doors due to the detrimental impact of the pandemic on their revenue, and in some cases, hundreds of workers have been deprived of their severance and other benefits. Speaking at a recent public event, the Deputy General Secretary insisted that such disregard for the tireless contributions of workers must end immediately.
“We have been asking as a union for the Protection of Equity Legislation. We have even done our research. We have spoken to the Minister of Labour and Attorney General. We said that too many companies in this country have gotten up and left workers with empty hands,” Hughes contended.
The Deputy General Secretary added that many businesses continue to operate with a limited asset base in an already volatile business environment. This puts the workers’ equity at significant risk. Coupled with this, Hughes noted, is the prevailing threat of natural disasters which could debilitate a business’s ability to meet its severance obligations.
The Deputy General Secretary noted that the Covid-19 pandemic helped to further expose these existing weaknesses in the system. He said the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union will continue to advocate for the Protection of Equity Legislation.