Prime Minister’s Attack on Port Workers is a Distraction from Failures at the Port


Prime Minister’s Attack on Port Workers is a Distraction from Failures at the Port


St John’s, Antigua – 11 July 2023 – On Saturday 8th June 2023, the Prime Minister, on Pointe FM launched an unprovoked attack on employees at the Antigua Port Authority and the West Indies Oil Company. He accused the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union —Bargaining Agent for these two groups of workers — of pressuring the Government and its agencies with unreasonable demands for salaries and wages. He further asserted that the Union’s ultimate goal is to see the Government fail.


Prime Minister Browne went on to state as if it is fact, that longshoremen make $160,000 annually. This is far from the truth! Not one longshoreman earns that amount in a year. More so, the Prime Minister is outrightly lying to the public. We wish to advise the Prime Minister and inform the country that the question of overtime and royalties are not paid by the Port nor the Government; they are charged to and paid by the vessel or its agent. The Prime Minister was misled as to this fact.


We further wish to advise the Prime Minister that the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union is the Union of choice in this country, owing to its vision for progress and its exemplary service to its membership for over 56 years. As such, it should have been no surprise to him that workers at WIOC voted overwhelmingly for the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union to assume bargaining rights during a recent ballot.


The question we would ask the Prime Minister — and would wish for him to advise the nation on


— is whether his recent comments have anything to do with the Exim Bank’s demand for the Port to meet its obligations on its loan payment to the Bank. Was the Government served with a demand notice in the recent meeting with the Exim Bank because of its inability to meet its loan payment?


On the issue of wages, the Prime Minister must understand the inherent value of these jobs at the Port. Many of the jobs have been in existence long before he became Prime Minister and will remain long after he leaves the office of Prime Minister. The risks involved in these jobs and with the watchful eyes of the Union, over the years, have brought great benefits to the individuals who perform these tasks.


The Union has been supportive of the Port’s redevelopment initiative. We have amended our collective agreement to allow for the Port to be able to deliver goods to customers within a reasonable time by facilitating three shifts and extending the work week. However, the port



continues to operate up until 4:00 pm because of the Government’s inability to modernize the operation of the Port by paying the Customs and Excise department overtime for working beyond 3:30pm, therefore extending the operation.


In which modern society will you find a port closing at 3:30 PM every day — even on weekends? The Prime Minister should be focused on expanding the operating hours by resolving the issues with the Customs department, rather than picking a fight with us who are performing and producing — a fight he cannot win!


This is not the first time he has gone on record for threatening the Port workers. We call on him now to cease and desist from his unwarranted attacks. The workers at the Port kept this country afloat during the pandemic. They are essential workers and not labourers. They are skilled operators and qualified tally clerks who work hard.


The attitude of the Prime Minister in his condescending remarks seems to suggest that Port workers are ignorant unskilled laborers who earn above their ability. This is far from the truth! We wish to remind him that these workers voted in the last election and will vote in future elections.


We also wish to remind the Prime Minister that striking is our weapon of last resort. It’s a fundamental right that we have in the pursuit of justice, and that right will never be denied to us. So, if we must use it, WE WILL at any time against any employer, even Government. We do not care which Political Party is in control of the Government. We put you on notice that you will not ever be allowed to take away our right to strike.


The Prime Minister’s constant attack on organized Labour is much cause for concern. We have sent the clip of his attack to the International Transport Workers Federation and they have expressed concern over his insulting remarks towards workers and their representative.


We at the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union, therefore, condemn these vulgar remarks and consider them a distraction from the real issue of the Government’s inability to meet its payment to the Exim Bank. We further caution the Prime Minister from idly threatening the jobs of ordinary working-class people.

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  1. Why is anyone surprised at the Prime Minister’s stance?

    He obviously dislikes PAYING Antiguans; WORKING Antiguans; and Antiguans attached to any UNIONS.

    Again, can’t the ABLP find a decent leader among their ranks that cares for betterment of its citizens?

    Gaston Browne is gutless, useless and wotless.


    • @ Smh

      Nah, the fame should be left to He-mell Govia or Mr Clare Hurst, lol – the ChairMAN of the port.

  2. Am not sorry at all cuz y’all put him there. Y’all know the suffering that would have come with it but no y’all lob hand out and freebs. Bribing people just to get a vote. Open y’all eyes and see what’s going on in this country. This Prime Minister kept raising pension age. Sometimes pensioners can’t get their money. Tear gas???? Forced vaccine mandate and threatened people jobs. All this and y’all still put him there. Come on. We need a change. Y’all have done enough damage to the country. Not even to address the robbery rate that’s taking place in our small little island. Where are our brother’s keeper? Where are the love for each other? Wake up my brothers and sisters. It’s getting worse. We need a change. Samantha Marshall must go.

  3. This is one of tactics of the NWO signatories. They have been systematically trying to destroy labour unions. The universal basic income that the Great Reset will usher in demands the destruction of unions. Though it’s highly probable that the government is cash strapped, and imo, it’s due to the collapse of FTX — there is a bigger, far more sinister agenda behind these attacks.

  4. Ya’ll love call for change and when ya’ll get it, ya’ll can’t tek it… Lest we forget the suffering of personal income tax and the like… Ole people say, “when you hab siddung, nah tek tan up”

  5. All of this is inevitable. 11 billion dollars and counting, plus the billions borrowed, and this idiot continues to flap his mouth to highlight his mismanagement of the economy. Only the double crossing, Uncle Toms and Tomiana’s are lauding him as a “good” PM. Anyone with a grade six education can see the abject failure this man is.
    When people were suffering during Covid19 and every county, it seems, was taking measures to help its people, Gaston Browne resorted to insults and innuendos, calling the citizens names, again to mask his failure. Of course, he lies to cover the fact that amidst these dark times, on the backs of poor people, he borrowed 540 million dollars at 4% and not a dime was spent to ease the sufferings here. It has become apparent that monies were sent to aid the region in the fight against Covid19 and it appears Antigua got its share. Where the hell is the money?
    But, alas, the begging, dunce, cool aid drinking Labourites made the colossal mistake of putting this inept, incompetent, corrupt government back, to continue its rape and pillage of the country’s resources. Sigh. We reap what we sew. Conditions here will only get worse.

  6. “All deez ladies in the crowd tonight. Ah Chester are u come look fah?” ~Wilmoth Daniel

    🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣

  7. Vote him in then complain, we done see what he never do for years. So why vote him back in then expect change? Who he help since in office? …

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