Antigua PM willing to negotiate directly with former LIAT workers


CMC-Prime Minister Gaston Browne says his administration is prepared to negotiate directly with the former employees of the regional airline, LIAT (1974) Limited that went bankrupt earlier this year. 

The Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) has been calling on the government, which had been a major shareholder in the airline, to negotiate an amicable settlement, but the government has accused the union of not wanting to negotiate in good faith. 

Speaking at the ceremony on Tuesday evening for the arrival of two E-145 jet aircraft that will form part of the new Antigua-based airline, LIAT 2020 Limited, Browne said that the door remains open for direct negotiations with the workers regarding the severance payments. 

The government had originally offered a 50 per cent compassion payment in cash and bonds to the former employees that Browne said amounts to EC$110 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents). The ABWU had said in the past that it would continue to seek the 100 per cent severance payment to the former airline employees. 

“We know the issue of severance remains an issue and whereas my administration has no legal obligation to pay severance, I say to the displaced workers of LIAT and even those who are still employed with LIAT that my administration is committed to covering the 32 per cent,…representing the shareholding my government had in LIAT at the time.” 

Apart from Antigua and Barbuda, the other shareholders were Barbados, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Most of these islands have reached agreement with their former LIAT workers on severance payments. 

Browne, who has since left Antigua for Venezuela to attend the XXIII ALBA-TCP Summit in Venezuela, said that “whereas the union has been an impediment my administration is now prepared to negotiate directly with the LIAT staff and to put a mechanism in place to make sure that 32 per cent is paid to you. 

“However, it will require the maturity of the staff to look beyond the partisan politics of the union and to negotiate directly with our government so that we can make those funds available to you in whatever combination, cash, bonds and land. 

“So I reiterate that the offer still stands and I encourage existing staff and former staff of LIAT to take up the offer,” Browne said. 

The two jet aircraft arrived minutes apart with the new company logo, LIAT 20, and  were greeted with a water cannon salute provided by the Fire Department along with cheers from those gathered. 

Browne told the ceremony that it was in 2020 during the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic, that his government had the vision to register the company LIAT 202. 

“No one would have expected that a small island state, one of the most vulnerable countries that had endured a most devastating impact from COVID-19 in 2020, would have the courage to planwere not on board for the new ride. 

He said the regional leaders wanted to bury LIAT (1974) Ltd, even as he saw the COVID-19 pandemic providing an opportunity to  ‘right-size’ the airline. 

The new airline will replace LIAT (1974) Limited that was first established in Montserrat in 1956 but folded in January following increased debt and the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The LIAT 2020 airline is being formed in partnership with Air Peace, a private Nigerian airline founded in 2013 and earlier this year Browne had said that Air Peace would be putting in close to US$65 million, while the government is investing US$20 million. 

Prime Minister Browne told the ceremony that St John’s investment could be higher. 

“At the time if you had asked me where we would have gotten 20 million US dollars as a nation to invest in the establishment of LIAT 2020, I don’t believe I would have had a precise answer, I probably would have said to you at the time God will provide. 

“But today, we are in a position in which the government of Antigua and Barbuda has already placed US$12.1 million in escrow for the purchase of three ATRs and we will also make available another US$10 million to repair the three aircraft to ensure that they are air worthy. 

“So in essence, we are committed to spending in excess of US$20 million to make LIAT 2020 a resounding success,” Browne told the ceremony. 

Two more aircraft will arrive over the coming months, to include a 120-seater jet and the enw airline has already completed demo flights under the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority, while awaiting its air operators certificate (AOC) by next week. 

Meanwhile, the representative for Air Peace Caribbean, Hafsah Absulsalam, said the first order of business is to acquire the AOC to ensure the launch. 

“Within weeks we are hoping to launch the airline. We will be hitting the road with our marketing campaign to tell you what our services are about. Naturally, the islands where we take our demonstration flights will be the first to be added to our schedule. With that in mind we are getting our operational readiness in place to ensure us able to begin operations,” she said. 





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  1. This offer should have been on the table since the beginning. The Union should have been out of the picture. and this because the government has no legal obligation towards the employees. They therefore did not need to negotiate with any union. The catch of this however is how then can you take away the right of the employees to claim their severance from LIAT 1974.
    if I was to advise from my understanding of the law. Stay away from making any compensation to any employee. You are a shareholder and you have lost your money already. You are not continuing the company. You have started a new company that is free from these liability. Why then take up our hard earned tax dollars to go and pay LIAT workers. You have some Stanford workers that have not been paid a dime to date. And their are many other companies that have fold up and left their employees in the cold. if their is a lesson to learned from this is that our Laws regarding staff severance need to be scrapped or revised to allow for severance to be accrued for on the balance sheet each year. In that case corporate profits will be much smaller and corporation tax will be much less. And perhaps we need to create a national account in which annual severance need to be deposited into. And who will manage that fund?

    • @ less we forget
      I don’t care who’s in charge I wouldn’t be flying with liat ever again I usually fly 3 or 4 times a year in the region I wish good luck to anyone risking their hard earned money again with liat.

  2. I am happy to see a new LIAT entity about to take to the skies. It should drastically improve regional air travel.
    I am saddened though that the issue of severance for the former LIAT (1974) Ltd still remains a sour point and is yet to be resolved.
    We cannot lose sight of the fact that the former LIAT (1974) Ltd. workers are owed their severance and what is happening today is one of the greatest injustices that has ever been meted out to any category of workers in this country. Whatever is done, however it is done, the workers are entitled to their severance as laid down in their collective agreement and in conjunction with the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code.
    We simply cannot pretend to be pro worker and pro union and continue to string the former workers out in this manner. Pay the workers and get this matter over once and for all. They have families who depended on them and were all affected by this.
    God forbid, I hope we are not setting up the workers of the new LIAT 2020 for a similar fate to those of LIAT 1974 Ltd.

  3. There is too much antagonism and the Union wasn’t prepared to do any negotiations with the current administration. Many persons did not believe that PM Browne’s plans would have been successful and were ridiculing and rubbishing him.
    This man is a financial and banking expert and I would venture to say that he does have our best interests at heart.
    It’s important that for our leaders to be pragmatic and understand how to negotiate in our peoples best interests.

    • What part of Gaston is a financial and banking expert?

      Please gimme a break

    • @lycorish it ain’t off the ground yet so don’t go holding your breath I just hope any island that let liat fly in they country collect all fees monthly so that when the s*** hit the fan they will only be owed a month fee and anyone flying liat to pay departure tax in person when leaving.

  4. Let me see if I get PM Browne. His Government is not under no legal obligations to pay former LIAT workers, but he’ll pay 50%. Well, you guys Union didn’t accept that offer in time so he will now offer 32%. Well, time is up for that 32% because like it or not LiAT 2020 is about to take off. He’s still a kind compassionate leader so if all of you LIAT folks bust your Union demands and come talk individually, he will restore the 32%. Not even 50%.
    PM Browne must know that he inherited a Party built by the AT&LU under V. C Bird Sr . He don’t have to emulate PM Motley if Barbados but there are workers out there who’ve spent all their lives in LIAT. They have children, mortgages etc. PM Brown’s tone is yet another slap in the face of V. C Bird, and Bradley Carrot etc who gave their lives to AT&LU to improve the lives of workers. This is an issue for kindness and compassion to those former LIAT workers, not the Union busting tactics that PM Browne has resorted to.

  5. This sounds like deja vu. Did not this clown make promises of union to certain former employees for a position then dump on them when he got what he wanted? This DAWG is no good folks and his promises are not worth a damn.
    Do not sign or agree to anything without your union or a lawyer with this guy.
    How dumb are the comments of @Lest we Forget! Just pure,unadulterated dunceness. The DAWG bragged of purchasing LIAT shares for $1.The liability comes with the assets.
    However, my sympathy for these LIAT workers has long waned. Heard many campaigned for this government during the last election; they never supported any protest or were silent when they should have inundated the airways with protest and that many played rogue (selfish really) and either took less than they are owed or made individual agreements.
    Hey, Antiguans must learn to fight for what’s lawfully theirs and that goes for these LIAT workers.

  6. Well said Audley.It is interesting to see how they are going to treat the PRESIDENT OF THE CARIBBEAN DEVELOPMENT BANK settlement , a CARICOM institution.LIAT (1974) LTD is also a CARICOM INSTITUTION owned by four CARICOM GOVERNMENTS.

  7. NOTE:The BARBADOS GOVERNMENT A MAJOR SHAREHOLDER IN LIAT (1974)LTD ,have triggered ARTICLE 7 OF THE REVISED TREATY OF CHAGURAMAS by paying the BARBADOS BASE WORKERS 100 PERCENT of their SEVERANCE. And now GASTRITIS telling you to take 32 percent or leave it.We are looking for the same settlement 100 PERCENT of our SEVERANCE which is due to us by LAW.You can take a man out of the GUTTER but you cannot take the GUTTER MENTALITY out of him.

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