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Airport security workers left in the cold

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Airport security workers left in the cold

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Apr 03, 2009

http://www.antiguasun.com/paper/?as=vie ... 9&ac=Local

Airport security workers left in the cold
Thursday April 02 2009
by Afeefah Beharry

The transition from central government to the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority (A&BAA) at the VC Bird International Airport hit a snag as a large group of employees were left in the cold after they were given what was described as very “limited” options with regards to their work status.

It was not until yesterday that the workers were given letters informing them of their fate relating to the transition which went into effect immediatley.

This has caused some friction between their bargaining agent, the Antigua Trades & Labour Union, (AT&LU) and the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

According to reports reaching the Antigua Sun, letters to those who opted to remain in central government explained to them that they can proceed on vacation leave following the transition of the security division or work as beach safety and security officers for the Ministry of Tourism.

Orientation and in-house training were expected to take place from yesterday for those positions.

General-Secretary of the AT&LU Stafford Joseph is of the view that the matter was handled badly because the ministry had adequate time to deal with it. After learning of what had transpired, Joseph met with representatives from the Ministry of Civil Aviation to discuss the matter.

“It is unfair. The ministry should have known and planned for this. We are very much concerned about the way they (workers) have been treated,” Joseph told the SUN.

“Those who would have applied since 2008, the new authority would have indicated to management already the employees who would have applied and were accepted and also management would have, since last year, known who the authority would have been holding on to,” Joseph stated.

Joseph further stated that severance was already agreed upon by the union and management, but that was not addressed in the letter.

He is of the firm belief that the workers should have been given at least two months' notice before the transition took place.

“We are of the view that the matter was handled badly. They should have been given the option earlier. Central government no longer manages the airport so the workers were made redundant,” Joseph said.

The union representative said the situation is very frustrating for the workers and so far, only one worker is willing to proceed on vacation or work as a beach security. The others have already been complaining about various health issues and job security.

Joseph made it clear that he was happy with government trying to maintain jobs for workers but believes there are other areas where workers can be meaningfully employed.

Earlier this year, the AT&LU put the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation on alert with respect to the long, outstanding issues surrounding the status of security officers, annual vacation leave, honorarium and severance.

On 14 Nov., security officers at the airport called in sick, almost crippling the operations at the airport. Upon the instruction of the AT&LU, their various shifts were sufficiently filled to restore full operations at the facility.

AT&LU realised the importance of having the workers at the airport and advised them to return to work.

These issues have been the source of contention between the workers and government as the airport transitions to be managed by the airport authority, a statutory body.

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