UPP leader in Antigua promises to pay severance to former LIAT workers

LIAT aircraft

The United Progressive Party in Antigua and Barbuda is giving former LIAT workers across the region what they are calling a “solemn promise”, that all their severance will be paid under a UPP Government.

“The United Progressive Party is giving you a solemn undertaking that the matter of your severance and your entitlements will be paid and we will treat it as a priority,” UPP Leader Harold Lovell told his first political rally recently.

Prime minister Gaston Browne has offered former LIAT workers only in Antigua and Barbuda a one-time compassionate offer of fifty percent of their severance to be paid in cash and bonds.

But Lovell said “this is not a matter of compassion. This is a matter of a moral, legal and spiritual obligation to the workers of LIAT,”.

He said a UPP government will pay these workers through “negotiation, consultation and compromise with you, the workers and your union representatives; we will get this outstanding matter resolved once and for all.”

Lovell added, “These are your entitlements; this is what you work for and this is what you deserve.”

However, Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party leader, PM Browne has said that Lovell is fooling former LIAT workers with the severance promise and has called on the UPP leader to stop making promises to former LIAT workers that he knows he cannot afford to keep.

The cash strapped airline took a nose dive in 2020 during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Owned by a handful of Caribbean shareholder governments, LIAT 1974 Ltd had provided crucial regional connectivity for decades but folded when the Covid pandemic exacerbated its long-standing financial woes.

A new downsized incarnation of the carrier has been operating a reduced schedule with a limited workforce since November 2020.

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  1. Bring back the kidnaped parrots
    February 3, 2022

    L I A T needs to be torn all the way down and re-built from scratch with new management and leadership at the local levels under a different name and using jets that can offer direct flights from Florida. The days of L I A T are over no hope for the future and wasting money. Back in the day L I A T was a very good airline.

  2. Jonathan Y St Jean
    February 2, 2022

    It’s instructive that the leader of UPP didn’t say how he would guarantee that the LIAT workers will get the money he’s promising to pay them. Liar, liar your pants are on fire. It would be nice if the workers could get the monies due to them in normal circumstances, but the company is not a real ongoing entity. It’s broke and broken. The workers and their union are partly to blame for this sad state of affairs, even if they won’t admit it. It’s not the first time that an airline has gone belly-up and it won’t be the last. The important thing is what lessons are we willing to learn from it and apply in the future so this sad state of affairs won’t happen again in our region. People should also learn from this episode to question those wolf in sheep’s clothing politicians who will tell you anything to get into office. They will offer you a bridge across your river and when you point out that you don’t have a river they will promise you a river to boot.

  3. Ibo France
    February 2, 2022

    The people who occupy the seats of political power in these OECS countries are more selfish, uncaring and wicked more than ever. It’s like they get superlative pleasure from seeing others suffer.

    Here is a group of workers, through no fault of their own, have been laid off permanently by their employers (governments). Despite this, they have to cater for the basic needs of their families. They are entitled to severance pay but are denied. How do these people maintain their sanity?

    Gaston Browne and his Cabinet should be held solely accountable. When LIAT went bankrupt, the other shareholder governments wanted to liquidate the company, sell the assets, then pay the workers. Gaston rejected that proposal and decided he could resurrect LIAT from the grave. He even wasted scarce funds by having a symbolic flight to Dominica to celebrate with his pea brain poodle, Roosevelt.

    Pay the former workers even if the money has to be borrowed. Wickedness!

    • Jonathan Y St Jean
      February 2, 2022

      @Ibo France, you say sell the assets and pay the workers. The value of the assets was not going to be enough to pay the workers. The aircrafts we’re leased not owned by LIAT. Also you blame the shareholder government and they have blame to take but what about the Board of Directors, the managers and the greedy unions? The government in Dominca which is most vulnerable tried to keep the country accessable and made bad investment decisions. They have to learn when to hold them and when to fold them. Unions need to employ and elect a new breed of leaders who are educated enough in understanding financial and accounting side of business to lead. The old leaders thought that with the backing of governments money would not be a problem but sadly the problem is money when there are alternatives, it’s called profitability. The workers are going to have to bite the bullet on this one hard as it may be.

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