Attorney General and Labour Minister Hon. Steadroy Benjamin has categorically denied suggesting ABS staff could be arrested under the provisions of the Essential Services Act if they do not work as scheduled on the upcoming public holidays. The Attorney General says the issue of arrest does not arise since violations under the Essential Services Act are midemeanours, not felonies and are therefore not arrestible offences.
AG Benjamin makes it clear that in discussions with the Antigua Trades and Labour Union which represents staffers at the public broadcaster, he indicted the provisions of the Essential Services Act are clear in circumstances where employees refuse to work as scheduled. He says while such employees would not be arrested, they could be liable to be charged and face fines.
Some employees had indicated their unwillingness to work on the public holidays citing non-payment of some overtime payments.
The Attorney General has been brokering talks between the Union and the ABS’ management to amicably address concerns over outstanding overtime payments. He expects the issue will be addressed. He announced that today in cabinet, Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hon. Gaston Browne indicated that outstanding overtime payments will be paid as soon as the exact sums of money due and payable to the affected ABS staffers has been ascertained by a committee set up for this purpose. The committee comprises the ABS mamagement, the representatives of the AT&LU, and other appointed members of ABS staff, management of ABS and lawyers from the Ministry of Legal Affairs.