Sunday, April 21, 2024

Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union wins landmark case

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ST JOHN’S – The Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) has won a landmark case in the Inustrial Court against the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) on behalf of the Bank’s employees.

In a statement, the ABWU, says the outcome is likely to have repercussions across the industrial landscape in Antigua and Barbuda. 

The court handed down its judgment last Friday, in the case Sundry Workers vs Royal Bank of Canada, in which the union challenged a unilateral decision by the financial institution not to pass on negotiated increases to its employees who had reached the maximum salary scales in their respective categories.

In a statement on Wednesday, ABWU General Secretary, David Massiah, said that paying negotiated increases to all employees in the bargaining unit had been the established practice dating back over twenty years.

He noted that in 2004, the RBC took a unilateral decision to discontinue the practice of across-the-board increases to all members in the bargaining unit. Instead, it instituted a practice whereby a “one-time bonus payment” was granted to employees in instances where across-the-board percentage increases would have resulted in some salaries exceeding the maximum salary scale within the applicable range.

Massiah said the union took a dim view of the practice and contended that no lump sum or bonus payment should be made following negotiated increases.

“In our considered opinion, irrespective of whether an employee reaches the maximum within his/her scale, all employees within the bargaining unit should benefit when salary increases go into effect.”

The union says that for almost 15 years, subsequent agreements between the ABWU and RBC were concluded without this issue being settled. All efforts to resolve it through the processes established by the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code failed and in 2013, the matter was referred to the Industrial Court.

The ABWU General Secretary says the ruling will have serious implications for employees in other entities. 

He says the union now has to make a determination of exactly how many workers have been affected by the practice in order to ascertain the total amounts outstanding to these employees some of whom no longer work for RBC. (CMC)

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