Antigua asks other regional governments to help former LIAT employees

The LIAT aircraft and staff during post-COVID inaugural flight at the Douglas Charles airport

The Antigua and Barbuda government said on Wednesday that a moral obligation exists to pay severance to former LIAT employees throughout the countries where LIAT once operated.

That country’s government also indicated that it will make a special plea to all regional governments, through the Administrator appointed by the Court under the amended Bankruptcy law, to make payments to their nationals after negotiations with the several unions that represented the LIAT workers.

On Wednesday, the Gaston Browne led administration was being blamed in part, for the situation facing hundreds of LIAT employees who were terminated last year and are still without their monies owed.

Several members of staff have taken their plight to social media, in what has been described as a final effort to bring awareness to the grave financial situation they are currently facing.

These workers used Facebook to cry out to the major shareholders, for some kind of monetary assistance to “help feed their struggling families”.

They are currently waiting on millions of dollars in unpaid salaries and pensions.

“Imagine waking up one day after decades of diligently labouring for an employer and this employer you trusted sends you home while withholding even the salary you have already worked for. Imagine the pain of being forced to endure the current global pandemic without any financial help all the while having families to support, bills to pay, and this, in circumstances where that employer has sent you home without a penny of due entitlements”, the online statement read in part.

LIAT is currently under a court-sanctioned restructuring supervised by an administrator with the aim of avoiding liquidation.

And the former workers say that Browne has added insult to injury by enacting legislation to prohibit the government from being sued.

The ex-workers said further that since they were made redundant back in April last year, they have not received any monies legally due to them, inclusive of severance entitlements despite numerous pleas to those who are responsible.

“This ongoing ordeal is nothing short of despicable. The deplorable handling of this matter is having a catastrophic impact on hundreds of families in the region. Even the innocent children in these households are victims of this injustice and this is not the Caribbean Way,” the former employees wrote.

The former employees are also criticizing Browne’s government after admitting to spending approximately half a million dollars every month to keep the airline in the air.

“This, while its oppressed former workers suffer. After years of sour industrial relations and disadvantaging its employees, LIAT continues to leverage itself on the backs of the people who kept it in the sky for 50 years,” the online statement noted.

The former staff said that critical funds that are rightfully owed are being withheld from loyal people who had nothing to do with the airline’s demise.

“Even the handful of employees who were fortunate enough to retain their employment are reportedly being deprived of their salaries and wages. Is this fair?” the ex-workers asked.

They claimed that the overall treatment meted out to these hardworking individuals by a CARICOM institution such as LIAT, particularly the withholding of, and failure to address something as important and fundamental as severance and other entitlements is a regional travesty.”

The terminated LIAT employees used the social media platform to plead with all across the region to help them spread their message.

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  1. god way
    January 24, 2021

    Gaston Browne our gov not not paying anything this airline should have been shout down long time ago too many employees over 600 for a airline with about 6 planes

  2. Zandoli
    January 23, 2021

    I feel for these people on an individual level, but legally they are being treated as any other creditor to which LIAT owes money. Just because LIAT was owned by regional governments does not put them in any special category which entitles them to funds that don’t exist.

  3. Nkrumah Kwame
    January 23, 2021

    What on earth does Brown mean by “moral obligation”??!! These leaders have no heart whatsoever. If it’s true that a law has been passed to prevent the Antiguan government from being sued, then it’s a diabolical decision and the concerned must seek legal redress.
    Always said that our greatest challenge in the Caribbean is that of MANAGEMENT. He won’t talk about moral obligation when it comes to his salary though. He gets paid every month.
    I sincerely hope that you guys don’t just sit back and publish statements in the media. Take your case to the region, to CARICOM, to the world. You have human rights that MUST be respected

  4. Ibo France
    January 22, 2021

    This is just appallingly wrong. No employee, especially dedicated ones like those former workers of LIAT, should be treated with such scant disregard and disdain.

    Where are the voices of CARICOM leaders? Not even one would muster the courage to advocate for these innocent victims of a tyrannical regime. Men of power in the most influential positions have lost their souls.

    The Caribbean region, a once tranquil, enviable place, is presently a place of perpetual crime, stubborn poverty and incredibly insensitivity brought on mostly by avaricious, narcissistic, power hungry, megalomaniacal leaders.

    Let’s all keep this issue of the non-payment of wages to the former employees of LIAT on the front burner. This treatment of these beleaguered former workers is the epitome of sheer EVIL.

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