Hundreds sign Banking Act petition in Antigua

The workers want amendments to the section that speaks to who gets first pick in the case of bankruptcy or liquidation.

Advocate for bank employees, Chester Hughes of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (AB&WU), said he has already received petition sheets signed by Antigua and Barbuda Investment (ABI) Bank and expects to get, today, petitions from the Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank (ECAB), Antigua Commercial Bank (ACB), Caribbean Union Bank (CUB), First Caribbean International Bank (FCIB) and Royal Bank of Canada.

“Once these petitions are received, it is our intention to forward copies to the prime minister, copy them to the leader of the opposition and also to the governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Hughes said.

The senior industrial relations officer said the petition is being pushed because Section 153 of the proposed law removes the rights of the employees as it relates to their priority for severance payment under the Companies Act. And, he added that Section 166 of the said proposed law, indicates that the Banking Act would supersede any other Act, once a financial institution under the Central Bank goes into liquidation or bankruptcy.

“Currently, under the Companies Act, employees are treated as the second in the priority of claims (after payment of government taxes). Under this new Banking Act, the employees’ severance is not even considered.”

“As a matter of fact, at a meeting Sunday morning with members of the banking association, it was even drawn to their attention that if a bank goes into liquidation, the Central Bank claims back its fees and expenses as a priority above everyone else,” Hughes stressed.

If this were to be allowed, the trade unionist said there would be nothing in law to ensure the workers are paid and it would perhaps be left up to the liquidators to decide when or if severance would be paid.


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