PM Skerrit urges regional heads to discuss LIAT’s future

A LIAT aircraft with staff during an inaugural flight at the Douglas Charles airport in November 2020 following a halt in the airline’s operations by COVID-19

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit wants regional heads to further discuss the future of cash strapped airline LIAT.

It has now been a year since LIAT ex-employees have been without their severance pay.

The carrier, which was battered financially for years, was grounded in June last year after severe losses attributed to the impact of Covid-19 and a reported US$4 million loss in 2019.

But the Prime Minister mentioned during his weekly Annou Palé programme on Sunday that the matter needs to be addressed and the solution is going to require a regional approach.

 “I am hoping at some point we could have a discussion at the CARICOM or OECS level on this matter that needs to be addressed. The people are entitled to it but we all know the circumstance of LIAT and the question is how do we go about finding a solution for this,” he said.

The prime minister continued, “I believe it’s important as a grouping, that we look seriously at addressing the issue of severance. It is a lot of money and a lot of money in a time when all governments have no money or little money, but I still believe that these are human beings. They have families; they have mortgages like all of us…”

Meantime, he revealed that since the resumption of LIAT’s operations, the Dominica government has been paying the salaries of LIAT employees resident in Dominica as its contribution, in the interim, towards ensuring the viability of the return of the carrier.

 “Luckily for us, our law allows for some kind of severance where the company may not have the resources and we, in Dominica, have directed LIAT to this redundancy fund that exist at the DSS [Dominica Social Security] which we believe that they can source, they can access to meet the severance pay for some Dominicans who would have been affected,” the prime minister stated.

He said he understands the frustration and anxiety of those employees and Dominica is prepared to assist “even above and beyond what we have to.”

The Prime Minister said his government will continue to work with the receiver and the Government of Antigua on this matter.

Regional heads of government have been asked to help cover the cost of severance entitlements of over EC$70-million to former employees of LIAT.

In January this year, the Court-appointed administrator, Cleveland Seaforth, said that as of April 2020, the total unpaid entitlements to workers across the region, amounted to EC$119,006,962. Of that amount EC$79,011,337 is in respect of the employee’s legal severance entitlements.

Preliminary estimates suggested that it was highly unlikely that any significant portion of the workers’ severance entitlement would result from the estate of LIAT (1974) Limited, upon its eventual liquidation.

The administrator also pointed out that “the employees were of the firm view that by virtue of the company being primarily owned by the governments of the region, it was most unlikely that hardship would come to them, because there was an expectation that the company would never be abandoned by the respective governments.”

But according to Seaforth, based on discussions with various unions in each of the territories, it was clearly evident that both the current and former workers are experiencing severe financial hardship and a high level of disappointment, in what is perceived as a lack of support from the respective governments.

He said then that the Antiguan government was prepared to offer the employees up to a maximum of 50 percent of their severance, through a combination of cash, land or government bonds and suggested that such an approach could be considered by other governments across the region and indicated his willingness to hold dialogue on the matter.

Seaforth made his recommendations in a letter which was addressed to the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.

It was also copied to the CARICOM Secretary-General and several of the trade unions across the islands.

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13 Comments

  1. Viewsexpressed
    March 26, 2021

    Bro. Skerrit above, you have written nothing, I’m responding. Please be advised that Skerrit does not know what he’s doing and stage is he in On this So called International Airport for our Dominica. When are our people going to Wake up away from this failed incompetent Labour government and its failed incompetent Skerrit.
    We repeat that we desperately need need that change in our Government that this failed incompetent Labour Party Government and its failed incompetent Leader Skerrit as Prime Odd Minister to get the hell out of our government and Suffering people.
    We have had enough of this 20years fake failed incompetent Skerrit and this failed incompetent Labour government. We need change of Government ASAP. This current Labour government has failed us big time. It’s time to Get Out of our government and Parliament. This Labour government has failed our people and our Dominica and insulted out government and Civil Service. Labour government OUT. Take failed Skerrit with you.

  2. Viewsexpressed
    March 25, 2021

    We The Suffering People of Dominica urges that the people discuss Skerrit future. We therefore want OECS Regional Heads and Dominica to further discuss the future of this failed PM(?) Skerrit as Prime Minister of our ailing agriculture poverty, and jobless people.
    Skerrit and his incompetent Labour government has failed we the suffering, jobless people of Dominica. After 20 years we have had enough of Immature visionless Incompetent skerrit.
    We desperately need a change in government and Leadership. That failed Labour Government has failed us and we will repeat this very often until this Failed incompetent immnature Skerrit is out of our government and people. We look forward to seeing a new, more committed trusted intellectual experienced commited Prime Minister to lead us into development and have our Dominica be seen as this Formidable Nature Island and its well disciplined hard working Dominicans. We therefore welcome our commitment decent trusted Hon Lennox Linton.
    Thanks All.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
  3. A voice
    March 25, 2021

    I think Skerrit is right to pursue this. So long Caricom around they still cannot see this as a regional asset and come together to preserve it; in one of the poorest regions on earth?
    They been coming together to do photo-ups to drink imported wine and shake hands for 60 years, what are they good for?

  4. Toto
    March 24, 2021

    You don’t need Liat. Winair flying Dominica to Antigua now.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  5. Ibo France
    March 24, 2021

    Mr. Skerrit CANNOT even manage the domestic affairs in his country. He should refrain from trying so hard to impress outsiders.

    Put Mr. Skerrit, to manage the waters of the Pacific Ocean (largest body of water in the world), in short order, the ocean would become a huge, sandy, barren desert.

    Those of you who have doubts, just look what he has done to the airport fund and the billions of dollars that have passed through the CBI program.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1
  6. Ibo France
    March 24, 2021

    LIAT should have been managed by a private business entity. In the airline business, the profit margins are usually small due to the high operational cost ( landing fees, taxes, rental space, fuel, salaries, maintenance) etcetera. History has taught us that governments in general, and Caribbean governments in particular, don’t manage/run anything well.

    LIAT has been an abysmal failure under the stewardship of some of the most underperforming governments in the region. To put back LIAT into the same hands is like a badly battered wife goes to the police station for help and the police return her to her abusive husband.

    What these governments should be doing is finding creative ways and means to relieve the unbearable sufferings of LIAT’s former employees.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1
  7. Skerro
    March 24, 2021

    Skerrit my advice to you the money you want to give liat put it towards the airport so we can have direct flight from Europe and USA and let liat go to its casket enough is enough

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1
    • Viewsexpressed
      March 26, 2021

      Bro. Skerrit above, you have written anivet, I’m responding. Please be advised that Skerrit does not know what he’s doing and stage is he in On this So called International Airport for our Dominica. When are our people going to Wake up away from this failed incompetent Labour government and its failed incompetent Skerrit.
      We repeat that we desperately need need that change in our Government that this failed incompetent Labour Party Government and its failed incompetent Leader Skerrit as Prime Odd Minister to get the hell out of our government and Suffering people.
      We have had enough of this 20years fake failed incompetent Skerrit and this failed incompetent Labour government. We need change of Government ASAP. This current Labour government has failed us big time. It’s time to Get Out of our government and Parliament. This Labour government has failed our people and our Dominica and insulted out government and Civil Service. Labour government OUT. Take failed Skerrit with you.

  8. Pipo
    March 24, 2021

    Forget it Roosevelt. Your own government owes our national bank so much money already, not to mention other creditors, why would you want to back a lost cause. Caribbean airlines is already providing a connection between Barbados and Dominica and Winair between here and St. Maarten. Liat was already badly managed and on its deathbed before the Covid pandemic. Leave it alone brother. R.I.P. Liat.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0
  9. Truth Be Told
    March 24, 2021

    LIAT has no future! Open up the Caribbean CARICOM OECS airspace and let competition reign! Do something transformational and stop flogging the dead horse! Do something resilient and let the Caribbean airline market be competitive! LIAT represents decades of Government failure in the CARIAOM region!
    That is why you PM Skerrit acting so irrational and desperate about building international airport! It was you who stopped Dominica international airport from being built! It was you who said that Dominica does not need an international airport, on the advice of your Syrian and Lebanese friends! Now you desperate! Ou ashass epi ausha! Pli tard pli triste, si bon Dominica kay vwe!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1
    • viewsexpressed
      March 25, 2021

      The Truth be told of fake failed incompetent Skerrit and his failed non-visionary Labour incompetent Questionable Government.
      We have had enough of this failed Labour government and this failed leader Skerrit.
      We desperately need change our government and our Dominica. Our people have had enough of this failed incompetent Skerrit and his failed Labour government.
      We need to move on with a more committed trusted distinguished experienced Leader of the Opposition, distinguished Hon. Lennox Linton
      We desperately need that change in our Government. Dominicans wake up and smell the obvious Bobol
      Good Luck 🤞 my People

    • Viewsexpressed
      March 25, 2021

      Truth to be told..? The Truth has been told and visible. So you mister blind loyalty 😣 of Skerrit we always want our nation’s business to be told the truth always. We’re already concerned about this red Clinic, deceptiveness and this Red Clinic of the abuse of our States funds to hand out in your clinic to those you have failed to elevate and connect to jobs rather than this deceptiveness Bobolistic behaviour with our states funds we hard working farmers and people have paid taxes. We want our money to go towards the development of our people and not towards your hopscotch twiddling of our hard earned States money 💰💸 expensed all over the place.
      Our Dominica and it’s poiry people desperately in need of meaningful development and buying loyalty from our poor unemployed people who wish to feed and care their children and families.
      No buying of Loyalty and this Red Clinic abusive disgusting system of yours.This isnt what we expect from a PM. But what we expect from Failed Skerrit.

  10. zandoli
    March 24, 2021

    LIAT has no future. Stop giving people hole where none exists.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

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