BARBADOS TODAY: Severed Barbadian employees of LIAT are anticipating a final resolution to their more than one-year-old severance payments impasse when they meet again shortly with Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
Spokesman for the group, former pilot Neil Cave, at the same time lambasted Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne over remarks he made on St Lucia’s Choice Television on Tuesday while providing an update on the state of play regarding the beleaguered airline workers.
Cave told Barbados TODAY: “Prime Minister Mottley has made a commitment to the beleaguered former Barbados LIAT workers on May 5 this year to use her good offices to intervene in order to attempt to bring some form of resolution to the issue of severance.
“The Prime Minister also committed to meet with us again, that is, the former Barbados staff, following the hundred days of May 5 which is coming up shortly. We are anxiously awaiting the convening of this meeting when the PM returns from her leave and hope that this longstanding matter can be brought to a just conclusion and to the benefit of the former workers who continue to struggle.”
The 100 days are up on Friday.
When Mottley met with the former workers, she offered them a one-off gift of $2 000 along with a $2 000 per month loan spread over a year.
After the May 5 talks, her Press Secretary Roy Morris said the workers agreed to the immediate formation of a small working committee to liaise with the Government to ensure all information necessary for the fulfilment of the promised assistance is available to the relevant agencies and the former LIAT workers would meet again with the Prime Minister in 100 days.
But while Cave and his colleagues wait to meet again with Mottley, he did not mince words in taking on the Antiguan leader whose actions he described as insulting, disingenuous and cruel to the former workers.
Browne drew the ire of the dismissed airline employees’ spokesman for once again claiming that their unions continued to refuse to accept an offer made by his government of 50 per cent of their severance benefits in the form of cash, bonds and land.
Cave said: “This narrative needs to be clarified as his government has not put forward any specific details on what he has repeatedly purported to be an offer. Simply put, Prime Minister Browne in my opinion continues to mislead the public at large into believing that there is a tangible offer on the table and that the former staff are refusing it. This is plainly far from the reality.”
The senior pilot explained that the workers from across the region have no idea what is being offered in terms of a breakdown of the cash, bonds and land.
He went on to contend that the concept of land would not even benefit former employees who live outside of Antigua.
The spokesman said: “How can payment of land in Antigua benefit the scores of terminated workers who reside outside of Antigua and Barbuda? In my opinion, what Prime Minister Browne is doing is insulting, it is disingenuous and it is cruel to the former workers who are owed a hundred per cent of their severance based on the laws of his land.
“It is also unbelievable that, at this point, 18 months later, that 636 former workers that supported this regional institution continue to suffer without severance and their other due benefits owed to them at termination.”