Labour Minister Says ABS Is An Essential Service


Labour Minister Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin has declared the national broadcasting service, ABS, as an essential service, effectively placing restrictions on how the staff can protest their dissatisfaction with the management.

The Minister on Tuesday met with the management of ABS and representatives of the Antigua Trades and Labour Union, after workers embarked on a 6-day strike beginning last week.

“Services rendered by an entity providing telecommunications services” is listed in the Schedule of the The Essential Services Act of 2008.

Benjamin reportedly said ABS is an Essential Service based on the definition of “Telecommunications” under the Telecommunications Act.

According to the Act, “telecommunications” means any transmission, emission, or reception of signs, signals, writing, images and sound or intelligence of any nature by wire, radio, visual or other electro-magnetic systems.

The Minister told the public broadcaster its designation as an essential service means the workers cannot refuse to work on public holidays.

“ABS is an essential service and the whole purpose of this act is to prevent any action to disrupt that service from performing its functions, he said.

Workers at the state broadcaster also took industrial action last December arguing, among other things, that they were being forced to work on public holidays.

ABS Protest last week

They also said public-holiday payments remained outstanding for years in some instances.

Section C14 of the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Code addresses work on public holidays.

C14. (1) Subject to subsection (2) no employee shall be obliged to work on a public holiday except in emergency situations.

(2) The Minister may, by Order published in the Gazette,exempt certain industries and enterprises, or certain parts thereof, from the requirements of subsection (1) on such terms and conditions as he may think fit.

The Essential Services Act places restrictions on industrial action where there is a “major dispute” involving workers of essential services.

According to the act, “A trade dispute is presumed to be a major dispute if it is one that is seriously jeopardising or is likely to seriously jeopardise the health or safety of persons in Antigua and Barbuda or the economy of Antigua and Barbuda in an essential service”.

“One cannot willy-nilly get up and go on strike or take an industrial action. There are procedures set out you see that govern how industrial actions are dealt with under this act”, the Minister said.

The act permits industrial action where the Labour Minister determines the action is not a major dispute.

“First of all, it is the Minister himself who must issue an order to that effect and then that order is published in the gazette and or served on the trade union, the employee representative and the employer indicating the state of affairs”, Benjamin said.


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  1. So does this mean that this union has again failed to notify staff accordingly as they did a few years ago with the nurses? Boy that union leader doesn’t fail to surprise me.


    It is generally believed that ‘…Facial Countenance and Mood’ speak to a particular state of mind.’

    A radiant smile or a frown or disapproving look, often reveals the mood. Yet it is never clear what a person might be thinking.

    Whatever the thoughts or situation, this picture sure ‘…worth just over a thousand words.’

  3. Laws must always have equitable value.

    What is the continuing or added value to the designation essential service?

    It would appear constitutionally correct for employees (any person) to assemble and protest. Until appropriate benefits is meted out to this class of workers. For example as the name suggests this group is of great importance to cooperate government so
    1 higher than average pay is essential.
    2 Full medical and life insurance is essential.
    3 Full retirement benefits at 11 years service is essential.
    4 25% interest on any unpaid pay, overtime, holiday, etc pass due after 3 days of due date. Pay date must be agreed upon prior to. This is essential
    5 Annual bonuses to be paid out on the second Friday of December is essential.


  4. ANR why do you insist on using that photo or Erna-Mae? LMAO! do you not have any other options in your archive? Is ANR involved in “covert operations” to make Erna-Mae look bad? Very interesting photo. LOL!!!!!

    P.S. – what has become of Alex Nicholas? Now I am hearing Shelton Daniel of observer radio. Did Erna-Mae run him too?

      • She is so bad that under her leadership the programming has improved leaps and bounds. I mean anyone who watches ABS these days and compares it to what it use to be, if they are honest must admit that the improvement to the quality of the reporting and the broadcasting have tremendously improved. Even when half of the staff goes on strikes the programs are not effected. We have not one shut down of the station through it all. That says you a lot about management preparedness for these situations.


    Saw the protestation yesterday morning. Stopped and mingled for a while.

    Learnt that there has been ‘…rapid turnover of staff.’ Since new management, revealed that almost ‘…60 employees have resigned.’

    Most were said to be unable to cope with the ‘…administrative pressure, horror or terror.’

    Not necessarily a defender of fate, but not sure if the manager is to be blamed squarely for staff ‘… disenchantment or disgruntlement; …dissatisfaction or discontent.’

    What of those that make policies or charged with administrative responsibilities?

    • the hospital sector
      electricity services
      water supply services
      telephone services
      police and the armed forces
      firefighting services
      public or private prison services
      the provision of food to pupils of school age and the cleaning of schools
      air traffic control
      587. The following do not constitute essential services in the strict sense of the term:
      radio and television
      the petroleum sector
      computer services for the collection of excises, duties and taxes
      department stores and pleasure parks
      the metal and mining sectors
      transport generally
      airline pilots
      production, transport and distribution of fuel
      postal services

  6. It’s amazing how, here in Antigua,things can be what we want them to be and when we want them to be so
    Essential service?!. If so, why are info of national importance very often seems to be aired first from and by another station?
    I thought ABS was now only a job provider. Smh.

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