LIAT workers hint at plans to stage protest

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Former besieged LIAT workers still fighting to be paid over EC 120 million owed in severance pay and other rights alluded to the organization of protest action.

About 500 ex-employees of the regional carrier, currently under administration, have been fighting for their dues for almost two years since the airline’s collapse.

Yesterday, Arian Blanchard, Barbados executive member for the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA), revealed on another local radio station that a protest was in the works.

“The next step right now is that we are planning to demonstrate in a few days and it will take place in the LIAT network. The unions are united, the employees are always like a family even if we have all been back and forth in hell. We will talk more about the plans for the protest in the coming days, ”Blanchard said.

“Even though Premier Browne is offering what would be his fair share, which is 35% entitlement, which also equates to 50% severance pay, he is trying to take all Charter entitlements for that amount,” So that’s where we have the problem, ”she explained.

“If he only offered that percentage, I don’t see that there would have been a problem with the employees who accepted it, but when you say that’s it, it puts you between a rock and a hard place. ‘anvil.”

Owned by a handful of Caribbean shareholder governments, LIAT 1974 Ltd had provided crucial regional connectivity for decades but – as with many businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic – had to close its doors to give birth to a new scaled-down incarnation. of the regional carrier which has operated a reduced schedule with a limited workforce since November 2020.

A dozen pilots are among those still employed, albeit with half the salary they received before the LIAT collapse, but most of the carrier’s former staff have been left behind.

However, two of the shareholder governments have made efforts to provide some sort of financial aid to the old workforce.

Barbados has announced that it will give an advance of $ 2,000 per month to its nationals while the government of Antigua and Barbuda has made several offers for a compassionate payment. The most recent revelation last month indicated that the Antigua government sent € 2 million to the court-appointed administrator of LIAT for distribution to former LIAT workers who reside in the twin island nation.

Although the Antigua and Barbuda government has received praise for its efforts to keep the carrier in the sky, its attempts to offer ex-workers financial compensation have been the subject of controversy.

Just days ago, LIALPA president Patterson Thompson told a regional newspaper that the Antigua government’s offer of humanitarian payment of half of severance pay and the advance of $ 2,000 a month from Barbados to its nationals did not go far enough to satisfy the serious financial problems of the workers.

He reiterated that point on Tuesday when speaking to another local outlet where he explained why he thinks the offer is a double-edged sword.

“It’s not an offer of compassion because there is an agreement. I have to give up my rights to anything that can be done in liquidation, so it’s not compassionate. Compassion says “Well, I’m going to give you this money unconditionally,” so let’s take that compassionate talk back. Thompson said.

“We haven’t had any money for 21 months. Are you saying we’re not worth it? We’ve been operating the airline – ground crew, mechanics, flight attendants, office staff, pilots – you want us to retool, but we don’t have the money to retool. People’s homes will now be in stock. People will have to leave school, some may have to leave their islands. How is that compassionate? ” He asked.

LIALPA was not the only union to share concerns or denounce the Antigua and Barbuda government’s decision, as the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) called the payment ” bribe “and revealed his intention to take legal action against the government for offering payment without his consent.

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