Antigua: Former LIAT workers plan protest action

By Rumi Samuel Published on January 12, 2022
Antigua: Former LIAT workers plan protest action

Former LIAT workers across the region are planning a protest which could take place in the coming days to signal their seriousness about severance and other entitlements owed to them costing over 120 million dollars. 

About 500 former employees of the cash-strapped regional carrier, which is currently operating under an administration, have been butting heads with the regional shareholders for almost two years since the airline's crash. 

"The next move right now is we plan to protest in a few days, and this is going to take place in the LIAT network. The unions are united; the employees are still like a family even though we have all been to hell and back. We will speak to more about the plans for the protest in the next few days," Arian Blanchard of LIALPA told ZDK Radio in Antigua.

She maintains that even though Antigua and Barbuda's Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, has offered “what would be his fair share which is 35 per cent entitlement (which is also equal to 50 per cent severance), he is trying to take all the charter rights for that amount, so this is where we have the issue," she said. 

Adding, "If he was just offering that percentage, I don't see that there would have been an issue with the employees accepting that, but when you are saying that it, that puts you between a rock and a hard place".  

The majority of ex LIAT employees rejected the Gaston Browne administration's compassionate payment offer of two million dollars, intended to meet partial satisfaction of the cash component of the payout that the Antigua and Barbuda Government has volunteered. 

Just last week, LIALPA made what has been called an impassioned last-ditch plea to Barbados to summon an emergency meeting with other shareholder governments to conclude a severance pay package for all terminated employees. 

Patterson Thompson, the chairman of LIALPA, told Barbados Today that his union continues to wait for a response from the Barbados government to two letters requesting a meeting to discuss the plight of the workers who have been on the breadline for the past 21 months. 

Thompson acknowledged that general elections slated for January 19 in Barbados would further delay any chances of talks being held to conclude a plan to pay the struggling ex-LIAT employees their legal entitlements. 

“But we are still struggling. All the LIAT workers are 21 months into having no severance at all; no end in sight to the plight. And it is a tough time to live. We are struggling. We have no money to retool; we have no money to pay bills, there is no job on the horizon for us, so we are three times worse over than most people,” he said.

Rumi Samuel

Rumi Samuel

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