LIAT 2020 Interim Chair urges resolution re stalled severance negotiations between Gov’t and LIAT 1974 Workers

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Interim Chairman of LIAT 2020 Ambassador Daven Joseph (Photo by Robert A Emmanuel)
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The issue of severance for former LIAT 1974 Ltd workers remains a bone of contention between the government and their union.

Despite over two months since the airline went into liquidation, there has been no communication about whether or not the two parties will return to the negotiating table.

The Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) claims it never left the negotiations, but the government shut down any talks about 100 percent severance.

When our newsroom contacted the Interim Chairman of LIAT 2020, Ambassador Daven Joseph on Tuesday, to inquire about when these talks would resume, he stated that the government is waiting for the union to make the first move.

However, the ABWU General Secretary Senator David Massiah has stated that he has sent correspondence to the government but they have been ignored.

Acknowledging the years of service rendered by these workers to LIAT, Joseph highlighted the importance of reaching a satisfactory outcome for all parties involved.

He noted the government’s offer to the workers, which he believes extends beyond its obligations, and urged Massiah to approach the matter with objectivity and resolve.

“I haven’t had any letter from the union on this matter. As I say, the issue of LIAT 1974 Ltd is not on my burner. It’s not within my terms of reference as far as LIAT 2020 is concerned. But because of the strategic position that I sit in, I am willing to speak with the government and speak with LIAT to see that this matter can be resolved because it is a matter that needs to be resolved,” he said.

Ambassador Joseph raised concerns about the demands made by the union regarding the severance pay for LIAT workers.

Joseph emphasised that the union’s insistence on 100 percent severance pay from the government of Antigua and Barbuda overlooks the shared ownership structure of LIAT 1974 Ltd among four shareholders, including the governments of Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados.

With Barbados holding the majority stake, Joseph asserts that any additional financial support beyond the proportional ownership the government held should be discretionary.

The ABWU maintains that it is open to continuing negotiations with the government about severance for the former workers.

Senator Massiah has continuously accused the government of playing politics with the issue, while the same is being said about the union.

Up to the time of publication, Senator Massiah could not be reached for comment on the statements made by Ambassador Joseph.

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