CMC-Former LIAT workers across the region are planning a protest which could take place in the coming days, to signal their seriousness about severance and other entitlements owed to them costing in excess of over 120 million dollars.
About 500 former employees of the cash strapped regional carrier which is currently operating under an administration have been butting heads with the regional shareholders for almost two years since the crash of the airline.
“The next move right now is we plan to protest in a few days and this is going to take place in the LIAT network. The unions are united, the employees are still like a family even though, we have all been to hell and back. We will speak to more about the plans for the protest in the next few days,” Arian Blanchard of LIALPA told ZDK Radio in Antigua.
She maintains that regardless of the fact that Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, has offered “what would be his fair share which is 35 per cent entitlement (which is also equal to 50 per cent severance), he is trying to take all the charter rights for that amount so this is where we have the issue,” she said.
Adding “If he was just offering that percentage, I don’t see that there would have been an issue with the employees accepting that but when you are saying that it, that puts you between a rock and a hard place”.
The majority of ex LIAT employees rejected the Gaston Browne’s administration’s compassionate payment offer of two million dollars, which was intended to meet partial satisfaction of the cash component of the payout which the Antigua and Barbuda Government has volunteered.
Just last week LIALPA made what has been called a last-ditch impassioned plea to Barbados to summon an emergency meeting with other shareholder governments to conclude a severance pay package for all terminated employees.
Patterson Thompson, the chairman of LIALPA told Barbados Today that his union continues to wait for a response from the Barbados government to two letters requesting a meeting to discuss the plight of the workers who have been on the breadline for the past 21 months.
Thompson acknowledged that general elections slated for January 19 in Barbados would now further delay any chances of talks being held to conclude a plan to pay the struggling ex-LIAT employees their legal entitlements.
“But we are still struggling. All the LIAT workers are 21 months into having no severance at all; no end in sight to the plight. And it is a very difficult time to live. We are struggling. We have no money to retool, we have no money to pay bills, there is no job on the horizon for us, so we are three times worse over than most people,” he said.
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