Court administrator says LIAT employees won’t get money anytime soon

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LIAT Staff at recent meeting with union

More than 90 Barbados-based LIAT employees were formally terminated from the cash-starved airline today.

The workers, including pilots, engineers, flight attendants and ground staff, were among hundreds of staffers of the Antigua-based company who received their letters from court-approved administrator Cleveland Seaforth, who is overseeing the restructuring of the collapsed airline.

The employees had been on temporary layoff ever since the airline shut down operations in March due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that brought air travel to a halt.

After hearing an application by Seaforth, which he filed on September 18 seeking permission to formally send home all the staff, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in Antigua issued an order authorising him to terminate the contracts of 564 who had been laid off and to retain 103 required for the continued operations of LIAT.

The court also authorised the administrator to terminate the debtor’s seven aircraft lease agreements.

Today, in his correspondence dated October 22, 2020, the administrator told the workers they had been made redundant.

According to one termination letter, Seaforth wrote: “Further to our correspondences to you in respect of your temporary layoff, we now write to advise you of the Administrator’s decision that effective October 22, 2020, your employment as a [position identified] with LIAT (1974) Ltd has been made redundant.”

He reminded the employees that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major downturn in the economy and has had a detrimental impact on LIAT’s business.

“Indeed, prior to my appointment, it compelled LIAT (1974) Ltd. to place a large number of employees on temporary layoff since the business has not been actively engaged in routine commercial flying except for repatriation flights. This was also as a result of the uncertainty and general health concerns surrounding airline travel created by the COVID-19 pandemic and restricted travel throughout the region due to the closure of borders,” the letter continued.

“As LIAT (1974) Ltd has been forced to shut down its regional operations for an indefinite period in response to this pandemic, we have no choice but to further reduce staffing levels. Given these factors, we have unfortunately been left with no alternative than the present action, since the work which you were employed to perform has ceased or has substantially diminished.”

Seaforth assured employees that the company recognises its obligation as they relate to severance entitlements, vacation pay, retroactive pay and any outstanding salaries.

“All applicable entitlements will be advised to your respective bargaining agent for discussion, resolution, and finalisation prior to you being notified of amounts due to you,” he stated.

However, the workers were informed by the administrator that they should not expect any outstanding payments any time soon.

“In view of the company’s current state of insolvency, the payment of any indebtedness to you cannot be made at this time and is dependent upon the outcome of the court-supervised restructuring process. Every effort will be made to secure the best outcome in respect of the indebtedness to all employees in accordance with the legal and contractual requirements.”

Seaforth went on to address the issue of pension.

“Any outstanding balance due to you from the company’s Pension Escrow Account will be paid by the Administrator as soon as individual pension statements have been received from the Eckler Partners. This process is expected to be completed shortly,” he informed.

The letter of termination also said that any liability to certain staff arising from their contributions which were paid into CLICO will be quantified and included in his reports to the court as an outstanding liability.

Seaforth thanked staff, on behalf of the LIAT management, for the valuable contribution they made to the company during their tenure.

He also expressed “profound” appreciation for their understanding and support during this unprecedented time and expressed hope that they and their families remain safe and healthy.

However, President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Akanni McDowall, whose organisation represents the Barbadian pilots, has expressed concern about the status of severance for the local staff.

“Of course the concern for the union is the severance payments that are supposed to be made to the Barbadian pilots. We would have asked for a meeting with LIAT to resolve the whole issue of severance payment. The pilots would have expressed their difficulty with the company closing since March because they have not received any form of income since March this year,” McDowall said.

The trade union leader noted that the pilots have been having financial difficulties as a result, especially with regards to meeting their daily living expenses.

“We want to know when those payments are going to be made. The union has thrown its support behind the Barbadian LIAT staff, especially the Barbadian LIAT pilots. We are also throwing our support behind all of those workers who have been impacted by the closure of LIAT and we will do whatever we can to ensure that those workers get what is rightfully theirs. When I speak of what is rightfully theirs, I include the issue of severance payment,” he stated.

Meanwhile, one of the dismissed workers is questioning plans by LIAT to resume flying from November 1 to coincide with Independence Day celebrations in Antigua.

“You just terminated all of those workers and now you talking about a November 1st flight?” the employee asked.

The worker is worried that all the Barbadian pilots have been sent home and only 11 of their Antiguan counterparts will be re-employed.

Neither president of the Leeward Islands Pilots Association (LIALPA) Patterson Thompson nor any of the top brass of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) which represents other local staff could be reached for comment

Barbados TODAY

23 COMMENTS

  1. That’s normal in Antigua. The only people who get their money are those in the govt.

    Time for a new govt. It’s been long overdue.

  2. Barbados government should have try to save LIAT. They leave it all up to Gaston Browne. I hope he finds a billionaire investor.

    • Billionaires have become rich because they invested their monies smart. Putting money in LIAT to give former workers their severance is not a smart move

      • FROM THE SIDELINE our smart government should find some smart moves so that severance can be paid. I am sure you do not think that that is beyond the government to do.

        • Severance payments are not the responsibility of the Antiguan government only. These payments should be made from any funds LIAT has. If there are no funds, then all the shareholders should cover their proportionate share based on shareholdings. Why should Antigua alone pick up the tab?

  3. Poor LIAT workers.They cannot even go and pound salt.Because the Salt Pond at Deep Bay does not exits anymore.I wondered who was responsible for destroying that source of salt.

  4. I think the union once again have been giving people false hope when it come to receiving your severance pay. Except for the banks, you will have to wait years before you receive a dime if that much.

  5. Sidelines :There is a way for those people to get their severance. They all form a human chain and block the runway at VC Bird Airport. What the Police and Army going to do. Shoot them down like in Nigeria.How it was not talk about in Antigua.However,if it had happen in America.All of you would be over it like watery cow dung dropped and slashed.There are no blacks on blacks crimes anywhere.

    Antigua News Room: I AM VERY DISAPPOINTED IN YOUR LEVELS OF JOURNALISTIC REPORTING.WHY NO STORIES ON THAT NIGERIAN POLICE SHOOTING OF PROTESTORS?

    • @Black-Man
      When companies go bust, in most cases employees get nothing if the company has no money. Who are you going to picket when the old
      LIAT no longer exists? LIAT was not owned by Antigua alone.

      • Tell that to the Mariners and Sailors would believed. They played Robin Hood in the reverse. They stole from the poor workers and kept it for themselves and for LIAT.I gave a suggestion on what those former workers should do.I stand by it.There are times when unorthodox things bring swift attention and resolve.LIAT is still known as LIAT 1974,LTD.Get your damn Labor Party one sided story straight.I do not give a damn.If LIAT is not owned by Antigua alone.

  6. What a mess! No compensation for my time until you say so! A challenge to the reorganization plan needs to be filed in the court. Unions. Formulate and articulate before the judiciary. Why an indefinite period of time is not practical to compensate employees that have been made redundant. These individuals had to show up on time for scheduled work and carry out their duties professionally. Pay them on time. Which is now. Not “shortly.” That’s too open-ended! You workers paid your union dues on time every time. Time for them to fight for your right to the monies entitled to you!

  7. Each time I am reminded of this LIAT issue I cannot help but get angry and feel sorry for the affected staff.

    The rules have in fact been broken/changed in order for the administrator to do what he is doing. Obviously, he has the full backing of the government.

    It appears that these former employees may have to do some “rule breaking” themselves if they want to get any of the monies owed to them.

    Enough is enough!

    • @Alkebulan your so right all left for those former workers to do now is get a competent lawyer who has no affiliation to the government and file injunction against Lliat 1974 Limited and play the same game that browne and the Administrator is playing and make them come to the table with something concrete it might seem heartless but sometimes its the only way to go about these matters their is a lot more at stake than LIAT I’m wondering how much of these people will lose their properties and their minds before this is over.

  8. Waiting for years to receive your severance. Doesn’t that appear heartless to you FROM THE SIDELINE? Why don’t you beseech Gaston Browne to use his financial wizardry that you proclaim all the time to find the money to pay the workers. This situation is almost as heartless as being unable to pay PENSIONERS their monthly pensions on time. It is almost criminal and sacrilegious to tell the former workers of LIAT that it may take years before their severance and other entitlements are paid. The government boldly took on the challenge and should find the wherewithal to meet the challenges. There are two former LIAT workers that I know who are now driving taxis to survive. What of those former workers who are not that lucky to find gainful employment. Are they to now have starvation steering them in the face like some of our PENSIONERS. Please, please government used the financial and economic wizardry that resides in your Cabinet to solve these major problems.

    • And FROM THE SIDELINE it cannot be a dime if that much with respect to the severance of LIAT workers since we are not talking of a liquidated LIAT.

  9. COVID-19 has exposed the financial wizard as just another Peter. Always borrowing from him to pay Paul. Antigua’s Government Finances is one giant ponzu scheme!

    • @Freetownson:You have mentioned Ponzi Scheme.There are two men sitting in Federal Prisons right now for running of such Schemes. They are “Sir” Allen Stanford and Bernie Madoff.One serving 110 years and the other serving 150 years.Looks like they would never see the outside of those walls again. Unless they were to break out.LOL.Perhaps we should send all of those Government Financial Wizards to Prison.For running and or engaging into a Ponzi Scheme and a Kiting Scheme.

  10. COVID-19 has exposed the financial wizard as just another Peter. Always borrowing from him to pay Paul. Antigua’s Government Finances is one giant ponzi scheme! It’s getting exposed to those who thought ABLP are the only ones that can run the country.

  11. @tabor, freetowson, alkebul, and Co.(very)Ltd.
    It is often the criminal, lazy minds that spend all their time focusing on personalities e.g. the PM who seems to occupy your thought process 24/7. You must by now be as bitter as gall for all his positive accomplishments on behalf of the people of Antigua and Barbuda! Why can’t you, for once, offer intelligent, workable suggestions? Read, for example, Makeda Michael’s article in a local newspaper in which she provides nutritious food for thought to the displaced LIAT employees. Workers, don’t just sit back and moan like the above-named degenerates would have you do. Getting up and standing up avail much more than resorting to violent, often criminal conduct which at the end of the day would only serve to place ýou in a worse position, and you can be sure that these rabble rousers will be safely hidden crouched like cowards behind their bullet proof sofas, conjuring up yet another diabolical scheme against the PM and the government. Kudos to Makeda for showing true community leadership at a time when our men seem to have lost their balls and can only tonguelash.

  12. When i divided 11million by 400 that gives me 27.500 and just rounding it off at 400 per ticket so in actual fact it could be around 30.000 ticket holders out there and people just ignoring that.

  13. Mr. Anon. You want to call me a criminal, lazy minded obsessed with your PM. I’ve spent 32 years around criminal, financial wizard schemers, tax evaders, frauders(Enron) look them up on google. People that have thought they could outsmart the system for financial gain. You don’t know my background to call me criminal and lazy. What I do know is your Minister of Finance is operating that ministry with the assistance of the Treasury as a Ponzi scheme.
    Take a walk with me along the pathway of basic economic and financial theory. Income + Assets – liabilities = Net worth. Have you spend any time investigating the net worth of your government? You know the percentage of GDP that is spent on serving debt. I don’t want to misspoke and say it is 105% of GDP. I think I’m close. Now, the budget speech of 2020 said that the government will be in a surplus based on projected revenue streams. COVID-19 hit. Income to the treasury got halted putting the government in a negative revenue earnings status. Now, where are the reserves the sustain the economy during the lost in revenue. None Dey. Why? As I said this government and all before them never thought about tomorrow. Spend and borrow is not fiscally sustainable.
    For a small island dependent on Foreign Direct Investment, Tourism, Financial Services and other unsustainable means of income. I won’t mention what that is for liability purposes. You’re doomed. Needing new money to service old debts, payroll, pensions and other liabilities without a positive treasury balance is an it itself a Ponzi scheme. Hope I didn’t go above your head.
    You want solutions. I’ll give them to you. Reduce the government payroll. Reduce the political appointees. Reduce the salaries and benefit schemes. Why pay a Prime Minister housing allowance to live in his own house? Stop that.
    A new system of government needs to be implemented. Parliamentary representatives should be just that. Not minister of this and that. Here is a proposal for you. The Cabinet should me made up of the the Prime Minister and Permanent Secretaries for each ministry under executive control. Who serve at his pleasure. Appointed positions not civil servants. Elected representatives should be advocating for their community not a Prime Minister’s agenda.
    Man you got me started. Statutory Corporations must be and insulated from political interference. Monies earned by these entities must be for sustainable growth of that corporation; i.e APUA and Transport Board.
    Finally. The Ethics and personal conduct laws need to be enforced. Individual elected to high office must be held accountable for their personal decisions. Conduct unbecoming should be enforced. No matter the individual. No man/woman is above the laws that govern the nation.
    Your government is rouge. Monies cannot be wired to Antiguan bank account without going through third party verification. Why? The alphabet boys are scrubbing every transaction. No wonder your PM is so upset with the loss of corresponding banking. It’s a damn shame.
    One question. Name one tourism accommodation product that has been completed since Gaston Browne has been Prime Minster and Asot Michael along with Max Fernandez Minister of Tourism. Refurbished establishments are excluded. I’m talking from ground breaking to doors opening.

  14. My balls are bigger than Cowballs. You’ve stepped on the wrong ants nest. You really don’t know who you are challenging.

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