PM calls out regional unions for maintaining unreasonable demands in LIAT matter

Prime Minister Gaston Browne
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By Orville Williams

[email protected]

Prime Minister Gaston Browne has called out the trade unions representing former LIAT employees around the region for their insistence on making “unreasonable demands” in regard to the monies owed to the workers.

Though the Browne-led administration has maintained that it has no legal obligation to the hundreds of workers displaced by LIAT’s struggles, it has put forward a compassionate offer of 50 percent of the amount owed through severance and other benefits.

According to multiple reports, however, the regional unions are united in seeking the millions of dollars owed to the workers and have rejected the latest offer from the shareholder governments. This, based on word from President of the Dominica-based Waterfront and Allied Workers Union (WAWU), Donald Rolle.

During an appearance on the Grenada Broadcasting Network’s (GBN)Beyond The Headlines programme this week, PM Browne said the unions need to assess the situation and realize his government’s offer is the best bet at this point.

“What is really required is full cooperation, [but] you find that some union leaders are making unreasonable demands. They’re making demands in which they have no legal basis so to do and as I’ve said to the other unions, if they really think that they’re owed 100 percent of their severance and staff liabilities, go to court and prove it.

“If you can’t prove it and the government is giving you a compassionate payment, take it and run, but you can’t go and demand [100 percent].

“Even in the case of Antigua and Barbuda, if were liable based on our shareholding in LIAT, we had a shareholding of about 35 percent, so it would have meant that the liability would have been 35 percent. The fact that we’re offering 50 percent…it’s a very lucrative offer”, Browne explained.

Though the majority of the unions remain in disagreement with Antigua and Barbuda’s position, the PM disclosed that a meeting was recently held with the pilot’s association – presumably the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) – where the representatives showed their willingness to reach an agreement.

Browne noted though, that they would need to get all of the unions on board in order to move forward.

Observer reached out to LIALPA for comment on Browne’s statements, but no response was forthcoming up to news time.

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