The union representing LIAT workers in Saint Lucia has joined counterparts in the region in expressing disappointment over talk of the airline’s liquidation.
The National Workers Union (NWU) represents some 28 LIAT workers here.
“Like all the other trade unions in the Caribbean, we are very disappointed over the manner in which the Prime Ministers of Grenada and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines dealt with the issue of the decision to liquidate LIAT or to wind up – whatever decision is made this week,” NWU Senior Industrial Relations Specialist, Lawrence Poyotte told St Lucia Times.
“The reality is that we expected better of them, from the point of view that the employees were informed of their termination via the media,” Poyotte explained.
He said the union is in dialogue with the employees of the carrier.
Poyotte told St Lucia Times that the NWU intends to ensure that whatever is due to them in terms of severance and other benefits are secured.
“We are not too happy with the statements made about people having to accept a haircut on their severance,” the NWU official stated.
He observed that there are a number of employees who have worked for as long as over 40 years with LIAT.
“If you take an aggregate of all the employees’ service, we are basically looking at thousands of years of service,” Poyotte declared.
He told St Lucia Times the NWU does not believe the governments should shirk their responsibility and say they are not going to pay the workers their full entitlements.
Poyotte expressed the view that if LIAT is allowed to do that, any private sector employer can do the same in the future.
LIAT employs some 600 persons, the majority of whom are based at its Antigua headquarters.
The governments of Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica jointly own more than 90 percent of the carrier.
LIAT announced in May that it needed over $5 million to stay afloat.
However Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has consistently made it clear that this country would not bail out the airline.
He reiterated Saint Lucia’s position just last week.
Chastanet acknowledged the need to have air traffic among the Islands, but asserted that if LIAT were not to survive, there are ‘other options’.
“Once a formal announcement is made by the shareholders as to what is going to happen with LIAT, at that point the government of Saint Lucia will provide its comments,” he told reporters here last week.