Antigua PM suggests Barbados help make payments to dismissed LIAT workers

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LIAT

The Mia Mottley administration may soon be asked to help pay millions of dollars in severance for hundreds of terminated LIAT workers.

Notice of this was given at the weekend by Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne while speaking on Pointe FM 99.1 radio station.

He told listeners to the community-based radio station that Antigua, where the collapsed airline is headquartered, cannot foot the severance bill on its own.

“Antigua and Barbuda can’t carry the entire severance payment alone, but we are prepared to carry our part of it and encourage other shareholder governments to help pay to bring some relief to the staff,” he said in reference to shareholders Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Dominica.

The Antiguan leader is adamant that some 600 airline employees must go and 100  rehired in order to operate the company, once the current restructuring process succeeds under a court-approved administrator.

Browne, however, is cautioning workers not to disrupt or undermine the restructuring process.

“You better off having 100 people employed and having LIAT flying than to force a situation that have 600 people employed and then have LIAT collapse, maybe in a few months,” he warned.

“So, we have to understand that it cannot survive in the form that existed prior to COVID, and that if we are going to have some semblance of LIAT it has to be very lean, very efficient and that requires the cooperation of all, including those who will not be re-employed,” the prime minister declared.

Browne told the radio audience he expects the new LIAT leadership to have an eagle eye out for the “rotten” employees during the rehiring process.

“And I have to say here, too, we expect the administration to look keenly at those employees; and let’s face it, LIAT has some rotten employees…. Those employees can’t be priority for re-employment…and we know that many of them would want to be disruptive, would want to use the court system and the unions and so on to put us under pressure,” said the Antigua PM.

However, he has put all concerned on notice that his government would not be daunted by any such “strategies.”

“So, they may as well cooperate with us and work with us and see how best we can satisfy the severance payments,” he suggested.

But while employees continue to demand their long-delayed severance, Prime Minister Browne’s description of some of them as “rotten”, has not gone down well with ground staff and pilots.

“People are very disheartened and very angry with what sitting Prime Minister Gaston Browne is saying with reference to the staff, coming out in the public and saying there are staff that are rotten,” one upset employee told Barbados TODAY.

“What he is not saying – and there are many of us in consultation with the union and the attorney particularly –; what Gaston Browne is not saying is why LIAT is where it is. He is not talking about all the various litigation and the very cruel treatment handed out to employees, mainly at the hands of his management over the years,” he contended.

“So, the point I am making is that we are basically still being held hostage right now; we are in limbo, we don’t have any official word on our position, so it is difficult for us to come out and say things publicly that we would like to say.”

However, the worker assured, all will be told at the appropriate time.

Earlier this month, Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Information Melford Nicholas said the cash-starved airline is expected to return to the skies next month. However, that timeline was dismissed as unlikely, by administrator, Cleveland Seaforth, during a recent meeting he had with the unions in the twin-island nation. Seaforth said there was still too much work left to be done first.

LIAT’s four major shareholder governments have written to the administrator agreeing to write off their debts, estimated at almost EC$70 million (US$26 million).

LIAT owes creditors more than EC$100 million (US$37 million).

Barbados TODAY

9 COMMENTS

  1. Mr. Prime Minister. See that you are in the mood to lean things out. Why don’t you start with your cabinet. While your at lean out the bad actors and non performers in the public service, your cabinet and statuary corporations. Lean out corrupt characters that have infiltrate your government. Control spending of government resources and for the sake of the nation. Stop borrowing when you do not have the means to pay. You say”I’m not looking for no job.” Plenty citizens are. You’re one of the lucky ones. The higher the horse you ride. The harder the fall. There are many examples for you to take a look at. Be responsible. You were elected to lead a nation out of past practices. Not continue the degradation, corrupt and bankrupt practices.

  2. Barse, they not giving you no money. You all decided to finish LIAT and you alone say you want to save it. When they said no, you cuss dem off and said you alone would do it. Wha happen? You can’t now?
    And also, how you could call the people rotten? Wha happen? You not taking your medication these days?

  3. The PM always begging and taking “free” gifts. This cancer needs to be removed from office.

    All he’s doing is taking care of himself and the regime. None have proposed to lower their salaries and continue to take from the people.

    Worse yet, he’s making Antigua the New China.

  4. The other caricom countries need to support Antigua on this one.

    In the long run it will benefit all the islands.

    Integration, trade, reparation, etc cannot be achieved until the region unite and hatch a long term plan and strive towards it.

    • The going seems to be getting tough for PM Brown. PM Brown took ownership of LIAT when he did not support the other sharehlders in liquidating the financially burdensome airline. The other shareholder governments have to answer to their constituents, so they cannot be reckless with what limited resources they have. If these givernments agree to pay what benifits are they getting? Will they continue to be shareholders or will they just be helping to clean up LIAT finances to allow it to be sold?

  5. What I can’t understand is how Liat is in so much debt and for how long??
    Just did not pay bills incurred from airports etc??
    The taxes on the travelers were certainly high enough.
    Definitely need good management and even better accounting. Cannot keep spending what you don’t have.

  6. This madman Browne finally gone off his rockers he expect all those workers to sacrifice themselves for liat he would have to be crazy and now he wants Bim to help pay, up to now not one word too all those ticket holders who Liat collected over eleven (11)million us dollars from and have the audacity to call the workers names shame on you browne and expect those same unemployed workers to sacrifice themselves for you to put Liat back in the air.

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