A three-day protest by former LIAT employees slated to start tomorrow in Barbados and across the rest of the airline’s network has been placed on hold.
President of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) Patterson Thompson said Thursday night that he took the decision not to go ahead with the picketing at this time due to time constraints in pulling off a properly-organised demonstration across the region.
“Given the rush and the limited time, we decided to postpone the planned picketing. This would now give us enough time to properly plan it and better engage all the COPs [commissioners of police] and get feedback,” Thompson told Barbados TODAY.
The ex-workers are demanding urgent payment of the EC$120 million (US$44.4 million) in entitlements due to them since being severed almost two years ago.
In a letter dated January 6, 2022 and addressed to the Barbados Commissioner of Police Richard Boyce seeking permission to stage a peaceful protest near the Grantley Adams International Airport on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Thompson informed him it was to draw attention to the long-suffering plight of the terminated LIAT workers who have been without their entitlements for the last 20 months.
“The Leeward Islands Airline Pilots’ Association is respectfully seeking permission to demonstrate/picket on or around the Tom Adams and Pug’s Rum Shop roundabouts leading to the Grantley Adams International Airport on the 14, 15 and 16 January, 2022,” the correspondence read in part.
“We intend to picket during the hours of 2 to 6 p.m. on either side of both roundabouts. All social distancing and mask mandates will be enforced by the individuals demonstrating/picketing. We estimate 30 members will be picketing between the two roundabouts,” the LIALPA leader wrote.
A similar letter was also written to Head of the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit Ronald Chapman on the same date.
The approximately 500 former employees of the cash-strapped regional carrier, which is currently operating limited flights, have been agitating for their entitlements since losing their jobs when the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed travel and impacted LIAT’s bottomline.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne has offered a “compassionate settlement” of 50 per cent of the ex-airline workers’ severance, payable in cash, lands and bonds, or a combination of those options.
But recently, the LIALPA president insisted that neither that offer nor the $2,000 per month advance being given to the Barbados-based LIAT staff by Prime Minister Mia Mottley go far enough to deal with the ex-workers situation which was getting progressively more dire.
The advance is to be paid back at a future date from any eventual severance settlement.