PM Says Unions Requested Severance Law Suspension, Union Says Not So

PM at V.C Bird Day celebrations

Prime Minister Gaston Browne says it is local trade unions and not the government that proposed an emergency bill to suspend severance payments during the period of COVID-19.

The bill has already been shelved but Browne says the impression is being given that it was the government’s idea.

“In fact what had happened, about a week ago, a number of trade unionist including those in the Antigua Workers Union, the UPP affiliated union, to include officers of the ABWU former PM Spencer, and Chester Hughes, politician, approached the Attorney General to ask him if the government would be in a position to suspend any unreasonable request for severance payments during this period of covid,” the prime minister said.

“And they asked the AG for the government to got to parliament to empower the government with the right so that in the event a large number of people demanding severance from an institution, which could literally destroy or force the institution into bankruptcy, that the government could have the opportunity to suspend that particular provision in the Labour Code so as to protect business and jobs. A totally responsible position which incidentally it was the union who as the honourable AG to put that provision in place,” Browne told PointeFM.

Attorney General Steadroy Cutie Benjamin confirmed that was the case but said the unions did not want to put their request in writing.

The Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) has refuted these suggestions, In a press release on Friday, the ABWU noted the assertions of some individuals, that the union expressed an interest in making amendments to, or suspending provisions of the country’s labour code, specifically with regards to the application of severance payments.

The union made it clear that this information was not factual, and neither were claims that they had agreed to any new legislation that would seek to undermine the rights of their membership or to create financial hardship to them.


Advertise with the mоѕt vіѕіtеd nеwѕ ѕіtе іn Antigua!
We offer fully customizable and flexible digital marketing packages.
Contact us at [email protected]


  1. It’s time to get rid of these Unions. Their membership no longer cares for the working class. A Hotel Workers Association made up of persons actually working in the hotels needs to be created. The employees are a major stakeholder yet they have no uncorrupted voice or ear in policy meetings. Hence always getting the shitty end.

  2. Exactly the reason why nobody should agree to sit down with them. They are quite capable of destruction without help.

  3. Always a good bet not to believe anything…ABWU is long known for it’s cozy relationship with the hotel management. The union will sell their members down the river without batting an eyelash, just for the privilege of free dinners and rooms for them and their women. Workers need to find proper representation

    • People forgot what happened when Sandals voluntary closed its operation for a couple of months saying they were going to renovate. What side was the union on

  4. Whether it’s the Union or Goverment running with it as a submission from
    the AHTA the fact that it was given consideration to be taken to parliament say alot. Check the tone of the Goverment official when he spoke about it. Clear cut they wanted to see merit in it!

    • The Union made a compelling argument on behalf of the Employers(Hotels especially ) claiming the workers would not have their jobs to go back to if they pay severance. For them now to refute it speaks alot….. my ears allows me to see and now my eyes has thought me to listen… ABWU head sick to the stomach.. Just glad that the same hotel owners can see their game in print.

  5. I never trusted the Union, twice I won cases with the Antigua Workers Union representing me, the Labor Department found the company’s liable then ask the Union to file damages and it was never done, they refused to file that report, you know what really bothers me, its two prominent men that has been rallying behind the Union for years, they live comfortable, the best houses, the best cars, there children goes to the best schools and it’s all on the Backs of the Poor People in this Country. Carty quits because the Salary was way too small, am now wondering what was keeping the others on the job.

  6. Did someone say ABHTA?
    Has anyone ever watched the movie D’jango Unchained?

  7. The art of deflection in true Trumpian fashion. With the public outcry, he just had to find a way to blame UPP. Lol. Is Baldwin even still an active member of the ABWU, serving on the board to make such a request? The fact of the matter is, your government was willing to take it to parliament. Take responsibility for crying out loud. Between you and Trump, I don’t know which is worst.

  8. They’re profiting from the thrift funds too and hotels workers have to go through so much red tape for their own money. Even if you stopped working at a hotel the process to obtain your thrift fund takes at least a month.

    its ridiculous!!!

  9. What’s instructive is a press release from the AG office was out on Wednesday, yet not one word from the Unions utill now disagreeing with its content. This particular part stands out:

    “As an alternative solution, the Honourable Minister indicated that he intends to lay before Parliament, a Bill to cover all regular provisions of the Law which will be applicable to all employment situations in Antigua and Barbuda during a State of Public Emergency. All persons present agreed to the Minister’s suggestions. ”

    Nothing from the AWU until public backlash. The added question though is are workers now better off with a looming situation of being severed? One may argue at least they have money now, however even in that there will be a delay of months for some employers in paying severance. The union taking the matter to court, there will also be delays. Truly difficult situation with only unpalatable options

  10. Good morning if we get sick we cont use the heath insurance them put a block on it the doctor telling you you of to pay in full if we not working were we must get money to pay in full can explain that to me

  11. So it was the union who made the proposal and not the Antigua Barbuda hotel and tourist association according to Gaston. A wa can go so afere i saw a letter written by the ABHTA?

    I guess sungu no better than lungo because I believe there was some measure of collision between government, Union and Hotel association against the workers.

    They did not expect the backlash because the only time Antiguans make noise is when you tutch their money or if something affects them personally.

  12. In this day and age knowing the political climate, the AG should never consider to move forward until the request was submitted in writing or the meeting video taped. Too much ‘he say she say’ Mr AG you should be smarter than that.You should be able to catch at least one of the names in the article with shis pants down.

    • Yes Baldwin is active at the union and is one of the main voices in the back ground … he has participated in all the meetings thus far… stop fooling yourself….. AWU was the ones to make contact…. straight and simple

    • The AG dealt with the Union(the representatives of the workers) and the Employers came to the AG with a so-called solution, the two affected parties… the union gave the impression that they had consensus with its membership so the Government had no alternative but to have a look at it…. it going to Parliament meant nothing because it would have died on debate.

  13. Need a press conference with the Labour minister and the union heads.

    Who is telling the truth in this matter?

    Time to stop the compulsory union deductions. Employers need to bring that to an end urgently.

    The union will then remember it has members to consult. And only then will they get up and work.

    The union getting easy money. Millions 40,000workers X 20 X12=9,600,00.00 per annually.

  14. I am NOT a member of any union; but I’ve heard people say that this particular union has been bought and sold by hotel owners. Especially the one that hoodwinked Lovell into holding on to our ABST. No surprise there. The dyke is known to try and sweet talk people. Too bad the unions CHOSE to take the bait. Sadly, it is the union members who will suffer the consequences.

  15. I just hope n pray they worked out this so that we can have something to help us out rather than suffering… we have bills mortgage/ rent to pay so something needs to be done.

Comments are closed.