Letters to the Editor

Gaston Brown spreads fear among Sandals workers

Monday, March 19, 2018

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Dear Editor,

I have watched the back and forth between ABLP and UPP supporters over the past few weeks, sometimes with amusement and sometimes with disgust. But in the middle of all the electioneering, there is one group of Antiguans, over 1,500 of them who have been suffering because of the vicious attacks by the Prime Minister.

I am talking about the workers at Sandals and their families, who have seen their company vilified, insulted and dragged through the mud by Gaston Browne, and who must face a bunch of illiterate hecklers on a daily basis as they go about their jobs.

Whatever Gaston's grouse is with Sandals and its owners, the complete thoughtlessness of the man regarding the harm he is doing to the Antiguans who work there shows the how shallow he is.

I worked at Sandals until couple years ago, and for 15 years I put on the Sandals shirt with pride, because we were contributing to the welfare and the coffers of Antigua. Now my nephew has been working at Sandals for the last three years, a decent 24-year old man who just got engaged to his girlfriend.

This is a hardworking, intelligent young man who Sandals has given an opportunity and he is studying in the Sandals University trying to better himself, only for some Gaston Browne clown to confront him and abuse my nephew and his girlfriend outside Epicurean earlier this week. I stepped in, because that was wrong and I told the guy as it is, and he would have gotten a little more if he kept it up. But that is now a common thing. My nephew tells me that all Sandals workers are under stress, and the women, in particular, are embarrassed and scared to walk through public places for fear of being harassed by Gaston's goons.

Is this what we have come to Antigua? Any Prime Minister with an ounce of decency and empathy would understand that what he is doing is hurting his own people, far more than the owners of Sandals. That alone tells me that this man is a selfish individual bent on his way or the highway. Today it is Sandals, but who next?

For 25 years the economy was never in any danger of collapsing because Sandals had concessions, and now suddenly it is? And where did he come up with this figure of 100 million? Why not 600 million, or why not 10 million? How they work it out? I never saw any auditor's report. Come on people of Antigua, we too bright to fall for that.

In the meantime Gaston hangs an axe over our family and friends working at the resort, making their lives miserable with all this nasty talk. And you know what, it has become clearer the past few weeks about who really has an agenda because while Gaston continues to abuse Sandals on the platform, the people have taken it and not responded. But there is only so long a man will take that kind of abuse.

Maybe Gaston feels he can run Butch Stewart out of town and take over the property. God help every worker if that day ever comes because the last time Sandals gave up a property here staff who did not get fired had their salaries cut. A real leader builds a longer table, not a higher wall.

Robert Lewis

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