Former LIAT employees are still desperately appealing for assistance almost a year after they were laid off without any severance or other payments.
Their latest outcry comes in the form of a protest video circulating across social media where the melancholic background music and message depict the impact that the lack of income is having on their lives and livelihoods.
The video begins with a message which reads, “severed LIAT workers are still owed and are suffering”.
It is followed by black and white photos displaying anguished airline workers who are in serious need of the EC$119 million in outstanding payments, including EC$79 million in severance.
Head of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA), Patterson Thompson, spoke to Observer in the aftermath of the emotive video’s release.
“Many of us are in the same boat as they are,” he said. “Most financial advisors would tell us that you must have six to nine months’ savings in the bank account and that money has been exhausted. It’s coming on to a year now without a cent.
“A lot of us are declaring financial mayday, financial distress situations. So, it is tough considering what is happening now in the present circumstances of a pandemic.
“And while I try to encourage everybody to see what is going on, a person is going to see what is happening to them every day. They are seeing their funds exhausted. They are liquidating, they are selling things in order to make ends meet.”
Thompson also reiterated his organisation’s call for a regional effort toward resolving the severance situation. He called on heads of government to take a page from the book of Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, regarding his push to bring a resolution to the issues.
He reminded the public that in late January, LIAT administrator Cleveland Seaforth wrote a letter asking for assistance from prime ministers.
According to Thompson, only two governments have responded to date and not favourably.
“One said they are interested in having a conversation but they don’t have any money. The other government apparently was acquiring information about their own nationals and tickets that they would have spent and what the severance is for their nationals,” he disclosed.
He begged regional governments to stop politicising the issues and instead concentrate on staff severance, saying “whenever the politics is involved, people get hurt”.
He called specifically on St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves to apply similar effort to resolving the issues as he did in the past as the chair of LIAT’s shareholder group.
Thompson said it was crucial for all the governments to get on board saying, “I need them to sit down at the proverbial Zoom table and have that conversation.
“I get it; there’s a pandemic and there’s priorities, but we need to start addressing how we can add to what Prime Minister Browne has put on the table,” he added.