St Vincent airport official commends LIAT pilots

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The Director of Airports in St Vincent and the  Grenadines, Corsel Robertson, has commended LIAT pilots for what she said was a “smart move”, when they opted not to protest last week.
The Leeward Island Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) had threatened to stage sit-ins at various airports if its members did not receive their salaries by midnight on May 24.
All pilots, with the exception of those on probation, would have participated in the protest.
However, after a meeting between the government, LIALPA and LIAT’s management, the decision was abandoned.
“They made a good choice because it would have been mayhem across the region,” Robertson said, although agreeing that
LIAT pilots have been very patient with the management where their issues were concerned.
“They have been holding for a while. And very patient at that. They have several issues…,” she added.
At the centre of the controversy is the failure by LIAT to implement a new salary structure for its ATR-72 pilots; general salary increases; and the pilots’ objection to a salary deferral system, among other outstanding matters.
The differences between the pilots’ bargaining agent and the airline’s management escalated last month with the two bodies openly exchanging accusations, and the pilots’ call for the sacking of the entire leadership of the company.
LIALPA had argued that it entered into talks with LIAT since 2012 for the new ATR-72 salary scale and the company, since January 2017, has remained defiant and had evaded the agreement.
“The thing about the matter is that industrial [action] would not only affect the management but travelers everywhere. I think matters could be resolved in other ways,” the airport director added.
She said the issues facing LIAT remain “very close” to the heart of St Vincent and the Grenadines, which is a shareholder of the airline. But that’s not it alone … If not LIAT, then what?” Robertson asked.
The pilots have since been paid but the turbulence facing LIAT is far from over.
The major shareholders of LIAT are Antigua & Barbuda, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados and Dominica.
All have communicated their desire to chart a way forward through collaboration with management, staff and union partners in order to find a sustainable model for regional transport.

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