Umbrella union urges LIAT management to examine itself

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The chairman of a regional union said Liat’s management’s decision to implement the salary deferral system without its approval disregards the demands of low-ranking employees, and introspection should follow.
Chairman of the Standing Regional Consultative Council of Trade Unions David Massiah said the workers of Antigua-based carrier Liat have sought trade union assistance in combatting upper management who have deferred their salaries days later than is contractually agreed.
“The deferral is difficult for us to swallow at this time when you have executive directors who are petitioning the board for them to receive an increase of their pay, at [the same] time are asking staff to take a salary deferral,” Massiah said.
The unions had previously participated in a salary deferral exercise back in 2014, which had been projected to be for a five-month period, but lasted 14 instead, without any tangible results.
The chairman of the regional trade union also said that upper management should re-evaluate its commitment to Liat as timing of the announcement reflects poorly on its leadership competencies.
“You have a number square pegs in round holes, and some of the people who want to run Liat, they treat it as if it’s their own business or personal stuff. They hold gripes against employees who take decision and say, ‘Well, look what you’re doing is wrong’ or stand up to them,” Massiah said.
He accused those in executive positions in the company of diverting funds into re-training high-ranking officials while asking the low-ranking staff for the aforementioned salary deferral.
“You are bringing in a consultant to train that manager and the director of the department to do their job properly…our position is you fire them because they have failed.
“You’re going to pay high-priced consultants to come in to tell a director, a person who has accepted that they are a director to come and teach them how to do their job at this particular stage, I have a fundamental problem with that,” Massiah said.
Meanwhile, the chairman said he is aware of “political interference” by regional prime ministers, but added that the leaders need to realise that as shareholders “we have some problems”, especially with Liat’s leadership.
“They have really put in a lot of money, but it’s because the people that they put there to manage their funds that are not doing it right. All of the governments around the region are using Liat as a football. They kick it and they bring it close to them when they want it and then they push it aside,” Massiah said.
Massiah, who is also general secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) said in an OBSERVER AM interview that regional unions have also informed Liat’s upper management of their intent to stage demonstrations as a means of showing strong opposition to the proposed system.
While speaking on behalf of the regional union, Massiah stated that the body is standing with pilots and flight attendants and are “ready to help Liat every and any day, but we cannot continue to take salary deferrals that is to the detriment to some of the workers”.

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