By Shermain Bique-Charles
The Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) is awaiting an official letter from the Office of the Prime Minister to confirm the specifics and clarifications of a discussion held on October 8th.
The President of LIALPA, Patterson Thompson, confirmed that the meeting with Prime Minister Gaston Browne discussed the compassionate payout concept.
“The meeting was frank but informative and clarified certain key areas of the concept. We are awaiting an official letter from the Office of the Prime Minister to confirm the specifics and clarifications of the discussions held, at which point we shall communicate them to our members,” Thompson told Observer yesterday.
Prime Minister Browne said earlier this week that LIALPA’s representatives showed their willingness to reach an agreement with the government on the compassionate payment offer.
Browne noted, though, that they would need to get all of the unions on board in order to move forward.
The offer, which the majority of the unions remain in disagreement with, was that 50 percent of their severance to be paid in cash, land and bonds.
Meanwhile, sources say that LIALPA met with PM Browne without notifying their union representative that Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU)
The ABWU had said that the proposal would only be accepted if it offers terminal benefits which include computed severance payments, outstanding vacation pay, and outstanding wages and salaries.
Furthermore, the union maintains an upfront cash component is the only logical and reasonable solution under current circumstances and should be given effect almost immediately.
Additionally, the union said the compassionate offer should not “and indeed does not represent the final and full claim of severance payments and other legitimate and legally entitled benefits of the employees”.
The ABWU said the compassionate payment would be considered an interim partial payment of the employees’ full entitlements.
Prime Minister Browne maintains that the union has seemingly forgotten that LIAT is not operating under ordinary circumstances. He also accused it of being “unreasonable”.
LIAT is currently under a court-approved administrator arrangement in Antigua and Barbuda.
The airline, which is owned by the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, and St Vincent and the Grenadines, owes millions of dollars in severance and other entitlements to terminated workers across the region.