The Government of Barbados has extended a helpful hand to just under 100 displaced Barbadian workers of LIAT, who will get some assistance by early next week.
During an hour-and-a-half-long Zoom conference with many of the former workers who have been idling for well over a year for entitlements from the local airline, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley assured that each individual would get a one-off gift of $2,000 by Friday — or first next week, at the latest.
This gift, which the central government will provide, will grant authorities time to put other measures in place that would extend further relief over a much more extended period.
All former Barbadian LIAT workers who were based here, paid contributions into the local National Insurance Scheme, and are therefore labelled to severance will now benefit from facilitated hearings by the NIS Tribunal.
It is assumed that these hearing will also start as early as next week, hoping that they will be wrapped up in time frame for payments to be done just after the end of the period.
Prime Minister Mottley revealed that it had become essential for the cases of these employees to go before the Tribunal following the Judicial Administrator of LIAT in Antigua, Cleveland Seaforth, had so far disappointed to sign and deliver to Barbados the paperwork that would have automatically triggered severance amounts.
The other important group of LIAT workers being assisted, includes Barbadians based essentially in Antigua, from whose wages deductions were made to that country’s Social Security Scheme and who are designated to severance under that country’s laws.
Arrangements are now being put in place to enable them to receive an advance of $2,000 per month from the Government of Barbados, to be paid back at a later date from any eventual severance remuneration.
Prime Minister Mottley revealed that this would be granted for up to one year, to be terminated beforehand if they are able to find alternative work before the end of that year.
Mottley emphasised that she realised that $2,000 a month would not compare to their salaries or erase the debt and difficulties they have accumulated since they ceased working, but she tried to assist them while supporting it against all the other urgent needs of Barbadians.
In the face of a direct appeal from the workers who related their confrontations with banks and other lenders, the Prime Minister promised to reach out to the area on their behalf to solicit payment facilitates.
The workers accepted the immediate establishment of a small working committee to liaise with Government to ensure all information necessary for the realisation of the promised assistance is possible to the relevant agencies, and the former LIAT workers will assemble again with the Prime Minister in 100 days.
Both President of the National Union of Public Workers, Akanni McDowald, and Acting General Secretary, Wayne Walrond, appreciated the Prime Minister for the assistance being offered to the employees by the Government of Barbados.