The Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union has expressed disbelief and dismay at what it considers to be highway robbery of workers’ severance by some Lending Agencies. Speaking to the Antiguan Trumpet President of the Union Mr. Kem Riley said these agencies have advance monies to workers at interest rates calculated to the final payment. What to is alarming is that a number of employers have allowed employees to consign their final pay checks which includes vacation and other benefits to these lending agencies if they lose their jobs.
Mr. Riley is particularly concerned with the section of the lending contract which states “should my employment with you cease or be terminated before full payment of all weekly installments as set out above, the whole balance of all outstanding installments shall be deducted from any salary and benefits owed to me upon termination”.
The Union is particularly concern that some employers have allowed their employees to enter into these agreements without considering the ramification. Mr. Riley quoted the Antigua and Barbuda Labour code C30 which prohibits any employer from deduction more than 1/3 of any employee’s wage. The code States “Provide that the total which may be deducted or stopped in any pay period shall not exceed 1/3 of the gross wage”.
Our reporter reached out to the labour commissioner Mrs. Eltonia Rojas who stated “I am extremely concerned with this practice of workers been content with living on credit. This has resulted in most persons borrowing beyond their mean, which intern have been forcing employers to deduct large portions of their wages and salaries. I believe there must be a greater effort to educate not only employee and employer but the lending agencies as well”.
She went on to state “It is critical to arrest this practice which has been highlighted during this pandemic, it is extremely detrimental to the economic wellbeing of workers. The pandemic is an opportunity for persons to restructure their priorities understanding what are need vs wants”.
Our news room have been reliably informed that the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union is having meeting with a number of these Lending Agencies to assist employees who would have forfeited all their severance.