During the House of Assembly meeting on Tuesday, February 23, the Minister of Labour, the Honourable Kenneth Hodge, made a passionate appeal for hospitality workers in Anguilla to band themselves together to create a Union that would address their grievances and represent them in the face of any form of discrimination.
Though there had been several attempts in the past to mobilise hotel workers to create a meaningful union for the benefit of providing workers with greater representation, those efforts were, for the most part, futile. There had been no indication that a hospitality union had ever really gotten off the ground to lobby on behalf of hotel employees.But Minister Hodge, in addressing the House, was quite adamant that now is the time to establish that kind of representation for, although Government always seeks to protect the rights of the worker, employees in the industry must do their part to devise their own meaningful support system through the act of unionising.Minister Hodge spoke: “Madam Speaker, I along with the Ministry and the Department of Labour, have been receiving many complaints from workers, over the past months, concerning the many issues they have been experiencing in the labour market. These are issues ranging from ill treatment to redundancy. The time has come for serious action to be taken by the workers across the sector…”
He spoke of the hardships in the hospitality industry which were brought on through the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic – mentioning how the operations of hotels and other businesses had come to a grinding halt. This, of course, caused many workers to be laid off, and many made redundant.The Minister continued: “But Madam Speaker, I am proud that as Minister of Labour, along with the Ministry and Department of Labour, and indeed this administration, we have been instrumental in getting many of these workers reinstated into their jobs…“On Friday last, February 18, I along with officials from the Ministry and Department of Labour met with the Attorney General Chambers as a further step in this unionising process. That policy session was very positive and instructive for me. It brought home the necessity for this legislative exercise, and the lasting benefits it will provide to the labour sector, not only in the short term, but for years to come…”“The facts are clear,” he said. “We in government are playing our part. But now, more than ever, the workers need a voice to represent them, and a union will provide that voice. However, that voice can only come if workers band themselves together and form a hospitality workers union to make representation on their behalf as members of a union.“The benefits of a union are many. There would be improved working conditions without the fear of retaliation, better wages, increased opportunities for the employer, the provision of pensions, health insurance, a safer workplace and, above all, a voice on the job to guard against discrimination…”The Minister went on: “Employers must understand that we in the Ministry and Department of Labour, and the Government as a whole, are serious about the welfare of our people. And our people must likewise understand that they must perform on the job. It is all about a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.“We are here to bridge the gap. We are playing our part, and we are calling on all workers to also play their part in helping to solve the problems. The responsibility is theirs to get together and form a union, and let it start this year. We must all work together to make things better. A happy and empowered work force is a productive workforce.”