Former LIAT pilot wins unfair dismissal case

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Former chairman of the Leeward Islands Pilots Association (LIALPA), Captain Michael Blackburn, has won his unfair dismissal case against regional carrier LIAT.

The Labour Department recently handed down the ruling.

In the conciliation report, the acting Labour Commissioner Pascal Kentish said the dismissal was unfair because the company failed to follow the disciplinary provisions of the collective agreement.

Kentish has recommended that Blackburn be paid severance pay at the rate of one month’s pay for each year of service, notice pay, vacation earned but not paid at the time of termination, and six months compensation for unfair dismissal in addition to wages earned but not paid.

Captain Blackburn, who worked as a LIAT pilot for more than 33 years, was circumspect in his comments on the ruling.

“It is not the case of a judge but in my opinion it was not a case we could lose because the issues are very clear. So that’s one hurdle. Let’s hope it could stop at that and we don’t have to take it any further,” he told OBSERVER media.

He also indicated, “(Pascal) has given a proposal and asked the parties to consider it. I’m waiting for recommendations from my union and depending on how they feel and how my lawyers feel we will be prepared to make an accommodation.”

Blackburn was fired after making certain comments on OBSERVER Radio’s Big Issues programme in 2011, which the management said threatened the airline’s existence.