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SVG: Union warns of industrial action at international airport

April 6, 2024

CMC – The Public Service Union (PSU) says its members at the Argyle International Airport (AIA) will take industrial action next week if the authorities do not meet its demands to pay outstanding monies owed to workers by April 12.

The union said it would not repeat the mistake of a few years ago when it called off planned industrial action the night before it was due have taken place.

“And we recognise and realise that our failure to take action then is what resulted in this particular dismissal behaviour, this dismissal attitude of the board and the management,” said PSU president, Elroy Boucher.

“That is why I’ve said, and speaking from the perspective of the workers, that the management of AIA should be under no illusion that if this matter is not settled that there will not be disruption,” Boucher told a news conference.

“There will be disruption. Make no mistake about it. That mistake would not be made again.”

The PSU said that the workers are owed increments dating back to 2016. However, they have decided to forfeit the payment of the sums for 2016 to 2018.

The increment for 2019, which amounted to 1.5 per cent of the workers’ salary, was paid in January 2023.

Therefore, the union said it expected the retroactive component for the years 2020, 2021, and 2022, estimated at EC$40,000 (One Ec dollar = US$0.37 cents) to be paid and that it has sent “numerous letters and held numerous meetings” with the management of the AIA for four years, but the situation remains unresolved.

Boucher said that once commenced, the industrial action will continue until “this grievously outstanding matter is settled” as the union is still paying a price for its decision to stand down.

“The workers, up to today, have held us accountable for such a decision, because they were not happy with it. They are of the view that, because we called off that action, that is why the AIA is behaving the way it is behaving,” Boucher said.

He said that a few years ago, the union decided to call off the planned industrial action after a conversation with the then Chair of the airport’s Board of Directors, Ken Young.

“We never got anything from calling off that action. We were given word that ‘we would find a solution’. There was none. So, we called off the action and got nothing in return; absolutely nothing. That is what made the workers so angry; because their situation remained the same.”

He said that the non-payment of the increments was just one of the “quite vexing” issues affecting the airport.

However, “all of the workers” including junior and senior aviation security officers, supervisors, plumbers and electricians are affected by the wage matter and Boucher said he is confident about success of planned industrial action on Monday and/or on Wednesday.

“The guarantee is the workers’ word. And the fact that they were very unhappy with our failure to take action a few years back because they have said — they continue to blame us.”

He said that the union has briefed the workers on the “usual” union-busting tactics.

“What normally happens in those cases is a call to party politics. So, you will hear that union leadership is political, something of that nature. ‘So don’t bother with them, because they only do this because of partisan politics. Maybe they’re on the other side, and they want to make the government look bad.”

“And we have made it clear to the workers that such an attempt will be made. But this matter is not a political matter in the sense of partisan politics,” Boucher said.

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