‘Pay former LIAT workers severance. It’s the law’

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Lovell

The repeated pleas of retrenched LIAT workers to be paid their severance have gained strong support from Antigua and Barbuda’s Opposition Leader Harold Lovell.

Lovell, a former Minister of Civil Aviation in the 2004-2014 Baldwin Spencer administration criticised Prime Minister Gaston Browne for his treatment of severance pay for the ex-LIAT employees from Barbados and other regional states.

Speaking on Observer Radio in St John’s on Sunday, Lovell, leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) declared that severance was not a matter of the prime minister’s discretion to pay but a legal obligation under the country’s Labour Code.

The Opposition Leader said while his party supported the Prime Minister’s option to keep the Antigua-based airline running as a going concern at a time when Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines proposed liquidation, the UPP is adamant that Browne has a legal obligation to honour the workers’ entitlements.

Lovell said: “If you take a decision to keep a business as a going concern, then you have an obligation…the benefit goes with the burden. So you cannot say you are rescuing LIAT, but we are leaving the workers out of their legal obligation,” declared the former Minister of Finance.

“The obligation to pay severance is a legal obligation. It is enshrined in the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code. It is not optional…it is not something you say, ‘well, take what you get because I am kind to you… and you are ungrateful’. It is not about that… it’s a legal obligation…anybody can argue for legal rights; you cannot tell them to shut up… and that is what this administration has been doing.”

The Opposition UPP leader promised his party would fix those outstanding issues regardless of the cost if elected at the next general elections which are constitutionally due in 2023.

Lovell said: “It must be fixed and the State must undertake that as an obligation to pay the severance to the LIAT workers unless they are able, with whoever the new investor is, to negotiate some of the payments to be shared by the new investor.

“All of these are options that have to be taken into account…but it is not an option to simply say that you can’t do any better so ‘go away and take whatever we give you’.”

Back in March, Browne threatened to end all support to LIAT if “pilots and those who represent them” continue to frustrate the government’s efforts to salvage the struggling airline, from which co-owners Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines withdrew in June 2020, prompting the St John’s to place the carrier in administration to avoid liquidation.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne told Observer Radio at the time that he could be forced to hasten the liquidation of the company; while distancing his administration from any liabilities arising.

In early June, Barbados TODAY broke the news that terminated Barbadian LIAT workers who were promised a one-off gift of $2,000 by the Mia Mottley administration had received the money.

But Captain Neil Cave, a spokesman for the Barbadian ex-pilots said an additional advance of $2,000 per month which was also promised, was still pending.

Mottley had earlier met with a large number of the ex-workers representing a cross-section of the airline’s staff and offered them financial assistance pending the conclusion of efforts to resolve the severance matter.

She had pointed out that Barbados would still assist those local pilots who Antigua was legally obligated to pay severance in that they contributed to the Severance Fund in St Johns and not Bridgetown. — Barbados TODAY

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22 COMMENTS

  1. romantic rhythms and $1.0million spent for 1/4 mile of road money could have come in handy!

  2. WHO LOST 8 ELECTIONS …WON 2 ELECTIONS.? the answer is HAROLD LOVELL… IN 2023 you will be entered in the GUINNESS book of records…The only Politician to lose 9 elections in the CARIBBEAN. LLC’S

  3. Between Harold and Tabor, I wonder which one is more dunce. I mean for a lawyer to say that the government has the legal obligation to pay the LIAT workers their severance is such a stupid statement to make. Company law would teach you that a company is a legal entity with its own assets and liabilities and that the shareholders can only be held accountable to the amount of their share capital. That gives protection to shareholders in case of bankruptcy and liquidation. And all the shareholder governments have made that clear from the beginning. What the governments have offered is goodwill payments. And the staff better understand this before it is much to late and they will get ZERO nothing.

    • As a terminated staff, it’s hard to sit and not say anything. The union has posed several questions to the government about their offer and no one is answering. It’s a slap in the face to many who have worked diligently over the years to help build the comany. Some questions asked are
      1. 50% of our severance, how much cash are we getting?
      2. You said you are offering land,what type of land,africultural or residential?
      3. How would this land issue affect workers outside of antigua?
      There’s more questions but it’s seems like it’s a dictatorship situation happening. We are frustrated. Many of us have elevated blood pressure. A former co-worker has died. We need this chapter closed once and for all.

      • I’m sure if you post the questions directly to the PM on his Saturday radio program you will get your answers. However, I do not recall the PM ever mentioning the Union asking those questions. So perhaps the Union has misled you guys. You can either call in or WhatsApp your question. The PM never runs away from a question.
        And regarding item 3. I believe the PM was only dealing with Antigua Base LIAT workers.

        • The union asked the questions in wtiting and have been ignored because they were supposed to just take what massa was so generous to offer. As you say before they get nothing.

          How dare them inquire when the offer NAR change? What you don’t seem to get is the blatant disrespect and lack of conpassion that signifies to people who have worked for so many years for the nation and region.

          They are being ignored and told to take the offer that won’t even ease their burden. The banks taking land instead of finishing up mortgage payments?

          Like grow up. These people need CASH to get them through this predicament.

          They are NOW wanting to try to lower taxes with the new LIAT. Could have tried that before.

          It may be dunce to say it is a legal obligation, but it is WICKED to say take this “offer” or shut up and get none tall to these people who can’t pay mortgage or school fees, and who probably still cannot see their way out of their dire situation with the government’s generous offer.

          It is CRUEL. That is what it is. Just tear your bottom and tell the thousands of workers and their hungry frustrated and suicidal families that you just nuh kay and done.

          Your children can stay in the bestest school so who cares right?

          Maybe we will wait until 16 years from now when we in hindsight see the connection. You have no idea the suffering going on. And the people they used to help out when they did have income, also in pain.

          Don’t tell these people we have no legal obligation to you so take it or move ya sc*nt! RUDE and out of order. Is like you grow up never hearing ah nuh just what you say.

          Or are you hoping more of them will literally die out in part from the stress and frustration?

          And you are PROUD to refuse to negotiate with these humans? You canmot be serious.

    • JUST SAYING don’t forget the millions from the E- book scandal and also all the millions wasted from the CIP funds which were channeled towards projects to facilitate creative enrichment.

  4. FROM THE SIDELINE I know a person who is duncer than Harold and I and that person is undoubtedly you. Since when government’s official business is conducted on a radio station on a Saturday? All the questions raised by WAITING IN VAIN were asked by the Union representative David Massiah in his written response to the Prime Minister’s LIAT settlement proposal. By the way, when the other shareholder governments took the decision to liquidate LIAT didn’t the Antigua government decided to go it alone with LIAT and took on all its assets and liabilities? Who then is responsible for the severance of the LIAT workers?

    • Dummy LIAT is a corporation, and a shareholder is only responsible up to the share capital. What more do you need to know as a lawyer this is beginning to sound pathetic from you and Lovell? Antigua prevented the liquidation of the airline so far. And the airline is now under administration. Looking for ways to make it viable once again. And that will not happen if the liabilities remain what they are. And the staff have been told on numerous occasions that if the company liquidates, they will end up with at the most 10 cents on the dollar for whatever severance they have. That is the simple valuation of the company’s financial statement. Barbados and St. Vincent are still shareholders. They have shown willingness to give their shares to Antigua for a token of one dollar but so far, I know that has not yet happened. CDB is the only one that will take back all the planes and even thereafter the shareholder governments in particular Barbados will be liable for the shortfall of that loan.
      With regards to government business being conducted on the radio. You mean to tell me you are against a PM being accessible and making himself available to the public. I remember the UPP doing the same thing on Observer when they were in power. The only thing they could not handle the questions from Winston Derrick and the public and quickly stopped coming on the radio. But this is the most transparent thing a government can do. You do not want them to use state resources for that. And the PM has been on Observer Radio on numerous times. Republican politicians avoid going on CNN and MSNBC while Democrats don’t even get invited on FOX News.
      Once again, a shareholder doesn’t take over Assets and Liability of a company. A shareholder buys a piece of the company. And the company is a legal entity with its own assets and liailities. And you and Lovell call yourself lawyers.

      • FROM THE SIDELINE despite all that you have said please note the fact that the government of Antigua as a shareholder has guaranteed the loans of LIAT and therefore is liable for the debts of LIAT and not just for the quantum of jts shareholding.

        • As you say it has guaranteed the loan. Which I doubt. As I understand is the government of Barbados has done that. But they have not guaranteed the severance. When the CDB gave the loan, they made sure the shareholders gave guaranteed above their shareholding. That was the protection they needed in order to give the loan. But again, that doesn’t mean that all the LIAT liabilities are guaranteed by the shareholders. Be real and admit when you and Harold are making dumb statetments.

  5. This is always the problem in Antigua. The story is missed and the discussion devolves into a partisan fight. While you guys argue and fight about politics, real people are being hurt. People are losing their homes and way of life, and very soon their minds. All of you sound so petty and childish and are acting like politicians are God’s to be worshipped.
    The workers of Liat deserve better than the disrespect meted out to them by the government. One should always be careful when they speak with the tone some of you are speaking. Today for Liat workers, but it could be you in a similar situation in the future.

    • Where is the disrespect. Government has opted to rather than to liquidate the company to try and safe it. Government has gone beyond their legal obligation and made several offers. The latest being 50% of the liability. I have not heard any other government made such an offer. The government has offered free university education for those wanting to be retrained. I mean the Stanford workers were sent home and not a dime for nine years. The Half Moon Bay workers were sent home with not a dime for more than ten years. The Jolly Beach workers are home also with no severance pay in sight. Yes, severance is a right but how do you materialize it when the company has no monies. This is what governments should be looking at. There are many other workers that are left holding an empty bag because the company they used to work for has closed shop and the shareholders have left the Island. The sad part of this is that we are in an economic pandemic as well and there are not many opportunities for persons out there. But sitting down and doing nothing is not an option. We are not a welfare state where people will receive unemployment benefits. We can hardly pay our own public servants and pensioners on a monthly basis. I said it before, the Union is misguiding the workers and the longer they take the worse they’ll be off. It’s better to have one bird in hand than two in the bush. The Union reps are being paid monthly very good salaries. Perhaps the Union should advance the staff some monies. Since they know they will get it back when the severance gets paid. And guess what the Union will then look to get 10% negotiation fees.

      • Let’s hope that if you should ever find yourself on the receiving end of such a deal, you will be as understanding and accepting of the terms.

  6. TABOR..Boy you are HAMMERED By FROM THE SIDELINE..Tabor please give you are a LOSER just like UPP. You cannot handle FROM THE SIDELINE. LOSER TABOR.

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