Former LIAT workers plan protest

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Former LIAT workers are planning a protest in coming days as they press for the EC$120 million (US$44.4 million) in entitlements due to them since being severed almost two years ago.

Barbados executive member of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA), Arian Blanchard, made the disclosure on ZDK Radio here.

“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,” Blanchard said, adding that more about the plans for the protest will be revealed in the next few days.

The approximately 500 former employees of the cash-strapped regional carrier, which his under administration and currently operating limited flights, have been agitating for their rightful due since losing their jobs when the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed travel and impacted LIAT’s bottom line.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne has offered a “compassionate settlement” of 50 per cent of the ex-airline workers’ severance, payable in cash, lands and bonds, or a combination of those options.

Blanchard said while Browne had offered “what would be his fair share which is 35 per cent entitlement (which is also equal to 50 per cent severance)”, the problem is that “he is trying to take all the charter rights for that amount”.

“If he was just offering that percentage, I don’t see that there would have been any issue with the employees accepting that, but when you are saying that that’s it, that puts you between a rock and a hard place,” she added.

Apart from Browne’s offer to the former LIAT staff, the Barbados government, the carrier’s largest shareholder, gave the just under 100 displaced Barbadian workers of LIAT a one-off gift of BDS$2 000 (US$1 000) and that same amount monthly which is to be paid back at a future date from any eventual severance settlement. (CMC)

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