Ex-LIAT workers cry for help

LIAT (social media photo)
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By Shermain Bique-Charles

[email protected]

The Gaston Browne-led administration is being blamed in part for the situation facing hundreds of LIAT employees who were terminated last year and are still without their monies owed.

Several staff have taken their plight to social media, in what has been described as a final effort to bring awareness to the grave financial situation they say they are facing.

These workers used Facebook to cry out to the major shareholders for some kind of monetary assistance to “help feed their struggling families”.

        They are currently waiting on millions of dollars in unpaid salaries and pensions.

       “Imagine waking up one day after decades of diligently labouring for an employer and this employer you trusted sends you home while withholding even the salary you have already worked for.

“Imagine the pain of being forced to endure the current global pandemic without any financial help, all while having families to support, bills to pay, and this in circumstances where that employer has sent you home without a penny of due entitlements,” the online statement read.

LIAT is currently under a court-sanctioned restructuring supervised by an administrator with the aim of avoiding liquidation.

And the former workers say that Browne has added insult to injury by enacting legislation to stop the airline from being sued.

The ex-workers said further that since they were made redundant in April last year, they have not received any monies legally due to them, inclusive of severance entitlements, despite numerous pleas to those who are responsible.

“This ongoing ordeal is nothing short of despicable. The deplorable handling of this matter is having a catastrophic impact on hundreds of families in the region.

“Even the innocent children in these households are victims of this injustice, and this is not the Caribbean way,” the former employees wrote.

The former employees are also criticising Browne’s government after it admitted to spending approximately half a million dollars a month to keep LIAT in the air.

“This, while its oppressed former workers suffer. After years of sour industrial relations and disadvantaging its employees, LIAT continues to leverage itself on the backs of the people who kept it in the sky for 50 years,” the online statement noted.

The former staff said critical funds that are rightfully owed are being withheld from loyal people who had nothing to do with the airline’s demise.

“Even the handful of employees who were fortunate enough to retain their employment are reportedly being deprived of their salaries and wages. Is this fair?” the ex-workers asked.

They claimed that the treatment meted out to hardworking individuals by a Caricom institution such as LIAT, particularly the withholding of and failure to address something as important and fundamental as severance and other entitlements, is a regional travesty.

The terminated LIAT employees used the social media platform to plead with all across the region to help them spread their message.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne could not be reached for comment on the matter.

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