By Theresa Goodwin
Head of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) is again appealing to Prime Minister Gaston Browne to request that the administrator of LIAT 1974 provide clarity regarding an October 8 meeting to discuss owed severance pay.
Captain Patterson Thompson said the details of those talks would help trade unions and others make a decision on Browne’s offer to pay up to 50 percent of the severance owed to ex-LIAT workers in cash, land and government bonds.
“There were some issues in there that need to be clarified that would possibly encourage more people to take another look at the offer. At the end of the day, it is the rights of the individual to accept or reject the offer.
“This is the most important task we need to do right now so that I can then go back to my workers, the pilots, and say, this is what this means, this is what would be done for you and other unions can make a decision on it as well,” Thompson explained.
Unions representing former LIAT workers rejected the offer earlier this year saying it was inadequate.
The Prime Minister addressed the matter again over the weekend claiming that the unions continue to refuse the offer which will not remain on the table indefinitely. He also spoke about other options he said the government is currently exploring.
If accepted, the beleaguered former workers could receive some financial support by Christmas.
“One of the ways we could help LIAT workers, especially those who are displaced and experiencing hardship, the government of Antigua and Barbuda could purchase the travel assets of LIAT from the administrator and that will make several millions available that could be paid to staff as a preferred creditor and, hopefully, we can get that done for Christmas,” Browne said during his weekly Saturday radio programme.
He explained that whatever is paid to acquire the travel assets would be deducted from the 50 percent currently on the table.
“On the basis that we can get an agreement, we would move quickly to purchase those assets and hopefully we can make some monies available to those displaced workers,” the PM added.
Browne also noted that the government hopes to use part of an approved loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to bring some relief to the embattled workers, however this is dependent on the unions’ willingness to settle.