Industrial action continues at the State Insurance Corporation today as Antigua and Babruda Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU) Industrial Officer Ralph Potter walked out of the settlement meeting early this afternoon.
This afternoon’s meeting came in an effort to resolve issues arising which led to members of staff staging a sit-in starting yesterday morning and continuing into today.
“Potter is grandstanding,” said acting board chairman Baldwin Anthony.
“The members of staff have said long-ago that he has not been acting in their best interest for quite some time now. And now, all of a sudden, he is trying to show them that he is working for them.”
The members in attendance at the meeting included the acting board chairman, General Manager M. Lyndell Francis-Butler, Potter, the two appointed shop stewards Simon and Robert Joshua along with member of staff under the invitation of Potter.
The board took umbrage with the special invitee.
“Yes, we gave her a pass yesterday, because tensions were still high and we only wanted to resolve the issue,” said Anthony.
“But, today, we saw no reason for her to be there, especially since the members of staff were represented by their union rep and two appointed shop stewards. So, we asked her to leave.”
The request was not well-met by Potter, who then refused to continue the meeting according to the acting chairman.
“The thing is,” said Anthony of the walk-out, “Is that the board came into the meeting ready to accept all of the recommendations set out by the Labour Department.”
The union and staff had previously accepted all other recommendations of the Department of Labour save for those pertaining to salary and severance.
The union’s proposal of a 17% increase in salaries was countered by a 6% offer by the board. The Labour Department’s recommendation was for an 8% increase in salaries which the acting board chairman said that the board was prepared to accept.
“Simply put,” said Anthony, “The employees found Ralph’s performance to be incompetent and he was looking for a way to find favor with them again.”
“It is a shame. Because, we came today all ready to put this matter behind us and get the members of staff back out to work again as of tomorrow.”
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