TUC Plans To Improve Attitudes Towards Workers’ Issues

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TUC Plans To Improve Attitudes Towards Workers’ Issues

Unread post by bimjim » Sat Dec 05, 2009


TUC Plans To Improve Affiliates’ Attitudes Towards Workers’ Issues
By Observer News
Friday, November 27th, 2009

The Antigua & Barbuda Trade Union Congress (ABTUC) President Maurice Christian has pledged the TUC’s resources will be put into modernising the attitude of its seven affiliate organisations to workers’ issues. He was speaking yesterday during the opening ceremony of the umbrella body’s 7th annual Delegates Conference at the Multipurpose Cultural Centre.

While making his remarks at the ceremony, Christian told his fellow trade unionists that taxation and investment that do not benefit workers, and that job outsourcing, and diminished reliability of the Social Security Scheme are all developments that unions must currently challenge.

“The ABTUC will therefore be conducting training in collective bargaining to help union officials to understand techniques in negotiations, to develop and understand productivity and production, Consumer Prices Indices and other economic terms,” Christian said.

As he had done on other occasions, he lamented government’s failure to keep current its contributions to the Social Security Scheme and the possible collapse of the organisation, which he said continues to pay government pensioners, accounting for half the monthly payout of retirement funds.

Christian was also concerned that companies were increasingly depending on outsourcing programmes to cut operational costs at the expense of employees, and he told the delegates that unions needed to oppose tax-and-spend programmes that erode the benefits workers have fought so hard to gain.

Ombudsman Eusalyn Lewis, who was a guest speaker at the conference, praised the trade union movement for accomplishments such as negotiating paid vacations and sick days. She also said that the union movement has touched practically every aspect of life, but she added that while the triumphs have been many, it would be a mistake to view past successes as the end of the struggle.

“The labour movement has to take a much more proactive role in terms of its relationship with the public labour administrators, the minister, the Labour Commissioner, et cetera. You have to. You have to begin to help to inject policies that can assist the workers.

“You have to be there to garner the ideas of your members. They’ve been there; they’ve had experiences; they’ve tried to make things work; and those things can be funnelled into what eventually becomes policy,” Lewis said.

Labour Minister Dr Errol Cort, who officially declared the conference open, commended the unions in general on what he said was the level of responsibility shown so far during the ongoing economic crisis. He also pledged that his ministry will ensure to emphasise the workers’ basic right to decent work and social protection.

The conference theme this year is: Empowering the Labour Movement for Sustainable Development.

The members unions of the ABTUC are the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union, Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association, Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers, Antigua Hotel Management Association, Guild of Antigua and Barbuda Air Traffic Control Officers, Leeward Island Pilot Association, and Leeward Island Engineers Association.

Due to a rift that developed shortly after Labour Day in 2004 the country’s oldest union, Antigua Trades & Labour Union, continues to boycott the ABTUC, which has made several unsuccessful overtures for reconciliation.

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