Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association slams LIAT shareholders

President of the Leeward Islands Airlines Pilot Association Patterson Thompson is appalled and dismayed that the shareholder government of LIAT (1974) Ltd left out talks about severance to ex-employees at their recent meeting.

LIAT shareholders Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados, and St Vincent and the Grenadines made it clear that their discussion on August 2nd was primarily to decide on the creation of a new airline or a rebooted carrier, LIALPA expected the highly contentious issue of severance would have been discussed.

However, to their dismay, the topic never even came up at the virtual meeting.

“We are struggling and we would like some attention paid to our plight. It has been very difficult to survive in these times and we just find it very hard that our prime ministers did not address this from a collective point of view…,” Thompson said.

LIALPA also issued a statement on Monday, saying that they are appalled and dismayed that the unsettled issue of payment of owed entitlements to the terminated employees of the company was not discussed at the recently concluded virtual meeting.

“We find it disgraceful that discussions on a new entity could be addressed with such urgency, while over six hundred former employees who continue to face harsh economic conditions have not been given equal attention or any attention at all,” LIALPA said in the widely circulated document.

Nevertheless, LIALPA remains optimistic and hopeful that payment of the owed entitlements will be satisfactorily addressed at subsequent meetings of regional prime ministers.

“We have always advocated the importance of the airline for regional integration, tourism, and to regional economies,” LIALPA said.

The shareholder governments also agreed to engage the services of an aviation consultancy firm – as had been previously touted – to develop a long-term plan to ensure the sustainability of LIAT and the provision of affordable air transportation.

But LIALPA believes that a new study now may be superfluous in light of the several studies which have been completed in the past, the recommendations of which have never been implemented.

They are suggesting that perhaps these funds and efforts would be better used to relieve the plight of the former workers and their families.

“We strongly encourage the shareholder prime ministers and other regional leaders to emulate the Prime Minister of St Lucia the Honourable Philip Pierre in declaring in Parliament that he will pay all owed entitlements to former St. Lucian employees of LIAT (1974) Ltd,” the Pilots Association said.

Hundreds of LIAT workers were terminated more than two years ago when the Covid pandemic exacerbated the airline’s long-standing financial woes by grounding it for several months.

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  1. Tt
    August 14, 2022

    Governments can’t run businesses! There’s too much special interest at play. Liat was ran like public works or one of the many pointless ministries. Egos took center stage, no structure. Any thinker or doer who had the right stuff was swiftly discredited and forced out. Replaced with a yes man. Then you have the islands who wanted start their own airlines or had private companies in those islands who wanted it. Liat 1979 farewell. Pilot union, farewell, good luck getting dues. Entitlement is partly to blame for the downfall. Should have demanded better instead of focusing on individuals benefits focus on future growth and development of the airline for your members but most importantly the customers. All the nonsense you guys been doing putting yourselves and feelings first. Now you begging.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1
  2. Shaka zulu
    August 12, 2022

    There is a pilot shortage in the US and the airlines there pay good money. Let Gaston, Skerrit and Ralph fly the new airline or maybe they will get cheap Chinese and cuban pilots.

  3. Tyrone Nicholas
    August 12, 2022

    The members should already know where the allegiance of these Caribbean prime ministers lay. and it is definitely not with the Caribbean people. These elected PIRATES are not interested in any type of integration that would lead to them being accountable. It is TOO SWEET to keep the ignorant divided. Couple that with the fact that we are ALREADY divided by our territorial waters and you will see that the state for Caribbean integration and unity is and always will be an abstract idea in our peoples minds…. and not to mention our backward thinking, that we are either better than somebody, or somebody is better than us, but we are equal to none.. I see these wannabe dictators in the Caribbean doing as much pillaging as they can because the people remain docile and ignorant to their own self determination.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2
  4. Juanita
    August 11, 2022

    LIAT was not an employee owned airline; it was owned by regional shareholder governments. What are the labor laws re bankruptcy and severance in those shareholders’ governments? In best practices, an employer is still liable for wages, salaries, or commissions including vacation, severance, and sick pay earned before bankruptcy.
    In its halcyon days, LIAT ground service left a lot to be desired, but its pilot service was almost impeccable. In fact, it is one’s opinion that the pilots should have received hazard pay for landing their planes in both Canefield and Melville Hall Airports in Dominica. Oh, the horror of being on a flight to Dominica, Canefield airport on a misty morning in the mid nineties! It is sad that employees who worked their whole lives for a company are now being left worse than beggars. It seems that lots of loopholes are being used to avoid paying them what they are due. This is not a fair deal.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2
    • Ibo France
      August 12, 2022

      Juanita, your comments are impeccably accurate. This action by these political ‘leaders’ gives one a clear insight as to their mindset. These people, literally, have hearts of stone.

      It is heart-wrenching to learn about the despicable treatment meted out to these former employees by people who sit at the top of the food chain.

      These islands were governed by oligarchs. They make up 0.5% of the population who live exquisite opulence, while the other 99.5% in desperation.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2
  5. Beta
    August 11, 2022

    All you experience it as well now, your Prime Ministers are only in it for themselves. They are not interested in other peoples problems.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2
  6. Ibo France
    August 11, 2022

    The beleaguered former workers of LIAT deserve their severance packages. Many of these people have toiled years to provide a vital service to us. Shouldn’t they be justly compensated.

    For these present ‘leaders’ to summarily dismissed the cries for these former workers’ entitlements is astonishingly callous.

    These aristocrats can’t secure the funds to provide relief for these suffering former employees. However, they have no difficulties in procuring the money to literally go joy-riding so frequently to every corner of the world pretending to attend important meetings.

    Why do we, as a people, find it so difficult to do what is just? Why do we ill-treat and deprive people who look like us?

    Pay the ex-employees all that is rightfully theirs. Have some empathy!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1
  7. Dr Clayton Shillingford
    August 11, 2022

    The complaint and ignoring by the Prime Ministers is very typical of the corrupt conduct of governments concerned Why does LIALPA not sue???

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 3
    • Pipo
      August 11, 2022

      Dr. Shillingford, one can not get feathers from a plucked chicken. LIALPA know that also and their members, who are already strapped for cash, would only run up a bill with lawyers without a prospect of success. In my opinion, the only thing they can do is put pressure on the shareholder governments and appeal to their sense of shame, if they have any, and turn public opinion against them.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1
    • Jonathan Y St Jean
      August 13, 2022

      @Dr Shillingford, you ought to know by now that the legal system in the region and sub-region in fledgling. These judges and magistrates and DPP’s etc are all singing for their super and where there aren’t too many opportunities for high level legal work they are constrained from bringing down the hammer on the side of justice. To suggest that the workers take their matter to court is to live in an alternate universe. It will only cost them a lot of money which I’m sure they don’t have and most likely can’t afford at this time. These good old boy government pals don’t have any more conscience and consider it a badge of honor to ride rough shod over their own people because they seem to think they have power. Yet they howl when governments of powerful countries do things they consider wrong. Welcome to the are of hypocrisy and totalitarianism. Don’t lose hope though because nothing lasts forever and things happen in cycles.

  8. Zandoli
    August 11, 2022

    I think the union boss’s approach is the wrong one. Instead of coming on strong as if the respective governments owe them something, he should be trying to negotiate something (anything) from the shareholder governments. He is behaving as if his members are they only ones facing economic hardship in the Caribbean. If his members lived as if they were wealthy people who are not used to living as most ordinary Caribbean people, that is on them, but he cannot pretend they are deserving of some kind of special treatment because they once worked for LIAT.
    The company is bankrupt and therefore is not in a position to pay severance to its former employees. If he started from that premise, perhaps he will make more headway with the heads of government.
    He does not have a strong hand and everyone knows that. Trying to bluff your way when your opponent knows your hand is weak will not work in your favour.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 30
    • Zandoli
      August 11, 2022

      Here is an idea: if the LIAT pilots think they have a case, they should take the matter to court to get a judgment for the severance owed. Obviously they won’t because they know they have no case.

      • Jonathan Y St Jean
        August 13, 2022

        @Zandoli, I’m not an expert on bankruptcy law but I do know that there are differences in what type of bankruptcy that companies file for. To simply state that because a company files for bankruptcy then it can’t meet it’s obligations to it’s workers is shortsighted. The legal system in the subregion is weak. The workers might not have the money to retain top notch lawyers to represent them but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a case. If the bankruptcy is one for restructuring of the business or for dissolution of the business the creditors of the business still have rights in law. Therefore saying that the workers don’t have a case is ludicrous.

        • Zandoli
          August 15, 2022

          Jonathan……LIAT has no money or assets that is worth much to any of it creditors. They can liquidate the last couple aircrafts (if they own it), but they will not get much for those.
          Even when a business is being restructured, everyone takes a haircut.
          I am really not sure what your point is. This is not ricket science

    • elizabethlxavier
      August 11, 2022

      Zandoli, you always speak the thought of my mind. How can employees from a bankrupt company demand severance pay? Don’t they understand that the company does not have money, the reason for its bankruptcy in the first place?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7
      • Jonathan Y St Jean
        August 13, 2022

        @elizabethlxavier, shame on you who comes across as the voice of God and good conscience. Because these government leaders believe they are above the law and that the weak judiciary will rule in their favor they ride rough shod over those who they abused for years in the matter of LIAT workers. When the workers speak for their rightful and just earnings be given to them you see them as ungrateful. How hypocritical that these same government leaders are joining efforts to advocate for reparations for acts perpetrated against our ancestors during slavery days and then today they are doing worse to their own people since the era of collective bargaining and union rights continue to exist. I agree that the government’s might not have the money now to pay however governments are ongoing concerns unlike businesses so since they will persist they should be humble and propose some meaningful resolution to the matter. Businesses disappear but governments don’t.

    • Jonathan Y St Jean
      August 13, 2022

      @Zandoli, you say that the workers act as if they are deserving of special treatment. Go read the collective bargaining agreement which was agreed to and signed between the workers representatives and the government’s representatives. If you believe that agreements have no meaning and no place in this world anymore then you should state that this is where you are coming from. You should also ask Charles Saverin who held the country of Dominca to ransom for weeks and demanded and received outstanding payments from the government of Dominca. When a company declares bankruptcy it’s stating that it’s no longer a going concern but governments don’t and can’t do that. Therefore your reasoning is flawed. Instead the governments should be humble and propose some meaningful workable resolution to the matter of compensation for the workers. Capitalism has gone mad and businesses seem to have more power than ever before in your world. Of course the governments owe the workers.

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