General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), Stephen Cotton, has written to Prime Minister Gaston Browne on the matter of severance for the former and current employees of LIAT (1974) Ltd.
In his missive, Mr Cotton said the ITF was both “surprised and concerned” by the Government’s handling of the matter. The ITF General Secretary expressed particular concern over Browne’s recent statement that his Administration would seek to bypass the Unions in order to provide “partial compassionate assistance” to the workers.
Cotton described the Prime Minister’s statement as “totally unacceptable” and added that it did not respect the relevant International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards. The ITF General Secretary referenced several international conventions that provide guidance on such matters.
“Two ILO Conventions and one ILO Recommendation specifically address worker claims in the event of enterprise insolvency: the ILO Protection of Wages Convention, 1949 (No. 95), the ILO Protection of Workers’ Claims (Employer’s Insolvency) Convention, 1992 (No. 173), and the Protection of Workers’ Claims (Employer’s Insolvency) Recommendation, 1992 (No. 180),” Cotton detailed in his letter.
Cotton added that the ITF will also write to the governments of Dominica, Barbados, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines to express concern about “their failure to meet the test of international rules with respect to the treatment of LIAT workers.”
Cotton concluded the missive by reiterating the ABWU’s call for a consultation. He noted that “genuine dialogue with trade unions is very much needed as only such an approach can contribute to a better, more transparent and more efficient solution to the problem.” The ITF General Secretary extended an invitation for the Prime Minister, along with ABWU representatives, to meet on the matter in April when the ITF will be hosting a series of meetings in Antigua and Barbuda.