PM Gaston Browne Unleashes on ABWU: ‘Hotel Workers Deserve More!’

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

Prime Minister Gaston Browne recently addressed the issue of inadequate wages for hotel workers in Antigua and Barbuda, emphasizing the need for fair compensation in the sector.

In detailed comments on Pointe FM over the weekend, Browne criticized the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) for their perceived failure to represent the interests of hotel employees effectively.

Browne highlighted the stark disparity in wages between various sectors.

He pointed out that a cleaner with no specialized skills could earn $550 per week, while hotel workers, who often have more demanding roles, earn $500 per week.

Given that the hotel sector is the most lucrative in the country, generating 55% of the GDP, Browne argued that hotel workers should be better compensated.

The Prime Minister proposed a solution involving the concept of gain sharing, where profits are more equitably distributed among employees. He suggested bringing together stakeholders, including the government, the Hotel Association, the ABWU, and other labor unions, to discuss and implement a more equitable remuneration package for hotel workers.

This approach aims to ensure that employees in the most profitable sectors receive fair wages.

Browne mentioned potential legislative reforms to address wage inequities, proposing a tiered wage system based on business turnover. For example, businesses with an annual turnover exceeding $5 million could be required to pay a minimum of $2,500 per month.

This reform would impact large supermarkets and other high-turnover businesses, ensuring that their workers also benefit from higher minimum wages.

The Prime Minister acknowledged the challenges faced by the public sector, which has become the employer of choice due to the low wages in the hotel sector.

Browne noted that the government had added 2,000 to 3,000 workers to the public sector in the last decade, but emphasized that this is not a sustainable solution.

He pointed out that many individuals prefer government jobs over hotel jobs due to the latter’s low pay and temporary contracts.

Browne was critical of the ABWU’s role in this issue, accusing them of turning a blind eye to the exploitation of hotel workers.

He alleged that some executive members of the ABWU had compromised their positions by accepting gifts and free meals from hoteliers, thus failing to provide proper representation for workers.

Browne also revealed that the ABWU collects over $3 million annually in union dues but has not effectively utilized these funds to benefit its members.

The Prime Minister called on the ABWU to step up and fulfill their responsibility to protect and advocate for workers’ rights. He criticized the union for its partisan politics and lack of effective action in supporting hotel workers.

Browne emphasized that the government would step in to regulate and ensure fair wages in the absence of proper union representation.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne underscored the need for fair wages and better working conditions for hotel workers in Antigua and Barbuda. By calling for stakeholder engagement, legislative reforms, and accountability from unions, Browne aims to address wage disparities and ensure that workers in the most profitable sectors receive equitable compensation.

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