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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says that while it is true that he has not met with LIAT workers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines nine weeks after their union sought an appointment with him, he has nothing new to say to them.

Gonsalves was speaking on radio last week in response to a press release in which Jeremiah Howard, president of the LIAT Workers Union said that the airline’s SVG staff learnt by social media two months ago that LIAT (1974) Ltd, was going into liquidation.

Howard said that in a June 8 letter to Gonsalves, the SVG workers requested a meeting to discuss the matter.

“The Prime Ministers of Barbados, Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda have met with the LIAT staff of their respective countries regarding the same issues,” he said, noting that this was not the case in SVG, where Gonsalves was chair of LIAT’s shareholder governments.

Gonsalves, speaking on NBC Radio, said,

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“Mr. Howard, the president of the local LIAT Workers Union — I see it said that I haven’t met them. And it is true. But I’ve spoken to Mr. Howard twice on the radio (sic), and I have written, I wrote the letter on June 29 to all the staff members as the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and a shareholder in LIAT and up to the point, the chairman of the shareholders, when I address the issue, among other things, is the outstanding salaries and severance.”

Gonsalves said he spoke to Howard and “I gave him all the details,” adding that LIAT, however, is now in administration. 

“I could meet them but I don’t have anything new to say other than what I’ve spoken to Mr. Howard about and to reaffirm that up to the end of May, overall in LIAT was $83.9 million for severance calculated in accordance with the collective agreement.”

The prime minister said that for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, there are 41 workers with about $1.4 million in severance due, but reiterated that LIAT is in administration.

“No shareholder government has paid any money to LIAT workers working in their own jurisdiction,” he said, adding that the governments want to see what’s the outcome of the administration or the liquidation process.

He noted that there was a liquidation process underway, but the Antiguan parliament, at the instance of Prime Minister Gaston Browne passed an amendment to the Companies Act to put in a particular provision relating to administration rather than liquidation and that is what is happening right now to LIAT. 

“And, of course, their vacation payments to be made for St. Vincent is about EC$400,000,” Gonsalves said.

“If they want a meeting to hear that the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, on a voluntary basis is going to pay them half the money — I see Gaston Browne is asking for the workers — the man who is driving the administration process — to take a haircut for the severance of 50% and ask him that they can put the rest, as I understand the proposal, in the investment in the new company — in the reformed LIAT,” the prime minister said.

“All [of] that is going on. Those things are in the public domain, what has been said. And I will talk to Mr. Howard any day and he knows that he has access to me. I see some people say that I have time to talk to people from Layou but I don’t have time to talk to the workers,” Gonsalves said, referring to a meeting he had at Cabinet Room with footballers from the Central Leeward town.

Some persons have suggested that the meeting is a partisan political move ahead of the next general elections, expected by year-end.

“I don’t know since when DJs and other persons who don’t know anything about the prime minister’s scheduling — that I must know take advice from them as to who I must see in preference to others,” Gonsalves said.

“I value what the LIAT workers in St. Vincent and Grenadines have done and I have spoken with the general principle that I don’t expect any government in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to act as a bandit. I am hopeful that persons associated with this matter don’t want, in a political season, to play politics with me.

“And I don’t think that they’re doing it. But I say I’m hoping. What I will do is speak at any time with the workers or the union representative where I have something new to say. If they want to find out — I mean I can talk to — quite easily to Mr. Howard on the phone anytime he wants to talk about it,” Gonsalves said.

9 replies on “‘I don’t have anything new to say’ to SVG’s LIAT workers — Gonsalves”

  1. You’re right. You’re better off not saying anything because it will be one more reason why your soul will be damned if you don’t repent.

  2. My God where is the heart where is the sympathy where is your soul Vincentians are crying out heart bleeds for the people of svg under this set of people getting richer off of poor people backs..WAKE UP ST.VINCENT VOTE THEM OUT YOU DESERVE BETTER

  3. One do hope, that if and when Ralph Gonsalves and his extended family are eventually and successfully evicted from political office here in SVG, that they are not in any way allowed to leave the country, but rather secure places be reserved for them in a specially erected dark Prison House somewhere here on our main island.

  4. Told u guys before, and I will remind u again,,this ulp government Does Not,,stand up for the poor working class people of SVG,,learn that!

  5. Meet with the staff, show that you care. It seems you don’t care about them. St.Vincent does not belong to you. Are you waiting for election time to meet with them because you want their votes and those of their family. Shame on you Mr. Prime Minister. Everything you touch is bad news.

  6. James H.wishful thinking if you feel the comrade is going to loose the up coming election. Votes in Vince don’t vote in issues, but on such things as promises and free hand outs.They are not so intuitive in their choices and reasoning.

  7. Nathan Jolly Green says:

    “I have nothing to say,” the words of a cowardly political leader. Once wanting to be seen as Mr LIAT he has slid away like the poltroon that he was, leaving LIATS employees to their fate.

    A traitor and despicable character. What man would be so caitiff and thrall as to fail the LIAT employees during their time of need?

    Meet with employees, forget what happened to you in grammar school, time to be a real man and face a situation of which you were part of its creation.

  8. I don’t understand how people could have sympathy for people of SVG anymore… do you think it’s the small percentage of better off people keeping ULP in office? It’s the vote of the masses who are willing to sell their souls for the comrade… maybe even their daughters too. Is that fear of subjugation or is it the heart of those who refuse to see truth of wickedness? I don’t know anymore… I give up

  9. People had seen through this man a long time ago, it’s so painful that the Labour Party had join with them on their second try, if this did not happen this man would have never never be in this office. I blame the Labour Party. Even my now deceased mother and friends were worried about their 2 fowls in their yard that one will be taken away,, If have 2 of anything one will be taken. Thank God, that nothing last forever. Vengeance is Mine says the Lord, I will repay.

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