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Liat

A LIAT aircraft. (Photo: Maxime C-M)

By Town Crier

Imagine waking up one day, after decades of diligently labouring for an employer, and this employer you trusted sends you home while withholding even the salary that you have already worked for. Imagine the pain of being forced to endure the current global pandemic without any financial help, all while having families to support, bills to pay; and this, in circumstances where that former employer has sent you home without a penny of due entitlements.

This is the dark reality for hundreds of former LIAT employees.

It all began on April 1, 2020, when over 90% of LIAT staff were temporarily laid-off without being given proper notice and pay.  In October 2020, approximately 90% of the total staff was then made redundant, weeks after the controversial temporary layoff deadline had expired. This group included: pilots, flight attendants, engineers, ground-support personnel, and others.  At the time that the layoffs and terminations were made effective, LIAT was majority owned by four CARICOM shareholder governments: St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Dominica. The company was publicly touted as an essential service, which was critical to regional connectivity.

The shocking and troubling reality now, is that these former employees have not received any monies legally due to them, inclusive of severance entitlements, despite numerous pleas to those who are responsible.  This ongoing ordeal is nothing short of despicable! The deplorable handling of this matter is having a catastrophic impact on hundreds of families in the region. Even the innocent children in these households are victims of this injustice, and this is not the Caribbean way! 

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To add insult to injury, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda has enacted legislation after the fact, that will allow the insolvent LIAT to continue operating whilst completely immune to any form of court action. Subsequently, it was publicly admitted that LIAT is burning through approximately half a million dollars every month; this, while its oppressed former workers suffer.  After years of sour industrial relations and disadvantaging its employees, LIAT continues to leverage itself on the backs of the people who kept it in the sky for 50 years.  Critical funds that are rightfully-owed are being withheld from loyal people who had nothing to do with LIAT’s demise.  Even the handful of employees who were fortunate enough to retain their employment, are reportedly being deprived of their salaries/wages. Is this fair?

The overall treatment meted out to these hardworking individuals by a CARICOM Institution such as LIAT, particularly the withholding of and failure to address something as important and fundamental as severance and other entitlements, is a regional travesty.

The former LIAT ex-staff needs your help to bring awareness to this ongoing and unjust situation. Please take a moment to forward this message to as many as you can.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

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8 replies on “LIAT’s former workers cry out for help”

  1. The reason why things like that are happening is because the people who have this businesses are all part of the same order, back to back and front to front. They are are worshipping Satan and are in cohorts with each other. They think they are getting away on earth but in heaven these acts of injustices are written down. They cannot be deleted burned, neither can they be erased. Government alway claim that illegality breeds crime, and wealth will solve/stop crime. If that is the case, then why those rich crooks and cronies in power stop stealing peoples money. The aprons there are wearing at their seances will all be made naked their dark secrets and worship of unrighteousness when God gives his verdict.

  2. Liat employees shouldn’t be looking for sympathy from the public. LIAT former employees especially those in Antigua were amount some of the worst people on Earth. They had absolutely no respect for the Passengers they were mandated by employment to provide services for.

    The cheated, stole, disrespect and did all manners of evils to us.

    The Antigua employees and their arrogant politicians are the main reasons for LIAT demise.

  3. WRONG!
    This IS the Caribbean way!
    Every time we hear of a business failure it always accompanies the staff not getting their pay….Duh!
    Ask yourselves:
    Why does a business usually fail? That’s easy!…Money!!!
    Does anyone think a business like LIAT will, after failure due to lack of money, (gobbled-up by the Shareholder Governments), be able to pay all those wages and over a FEW HUNDRED THOUSAND in Severance pay to those people?
    The MAIN REASON why I have not expanded my business with permanent hires is because, if I ever have to shut down, where am I going to get that vast sum for severance pay? To even have ONE permanent employee in SVG you have to be making vast profits! Just to pay wages, NIS and other costs, along with high Corporate Tax, astronomical Customs Duties,etc… You really better have good profits! That is why we see the problems we see in the Caribbean particularly in certain countries like SVG. The system in SVG is terrible and it seems too many in power are either blind, too cowardly or just do not care enough to make needed changes that would actually benefit the regular worker. Severance pay seems redundant when NIS is already being paid. Most countries do not have severance pay. It is GREAT for the employee IF they get it, but think about it from other perspectives. If a business fails, do you really think you are guaranteed to get it? I know of many other businesses (that have not been mentioned in any press) that have failed and after OVER A DECADE the workers have still not gotten wages and certainly NOT severance pay.

  4. This i one of the perfect reason I never trust government!,,they are responsible,,u see how quickly they are exempted from the law for being held liable ???

  5. Sadly a travesty! But two important points to consider. One is…LIAT is under judicial management due to its insolvency. It has no money to meet ANY outstanding debts!!
    Two….The present plan based on a re-organization put forward by the Antigua government suggests a start a fresh approach, with a focus on re-introducing the flight service, which it has done. The reality of this is that the company at this stage is not generating the revenue required to meet OTHER/OLD debt (severance etc), and quite possibly to meet current operating expenditure!
    As it is the company requires significant capital! How long the Antigua Govt continues to plug in 1/2 million dollars on a month to month into the airline is anyone’s guess. Apart from possible investment from faithful Govts in the OECS, it is unlikely a new investor will be willing to take over outstanding debts as a part of the arrangement. Where severance is concerned the former shareholder governments, during under which the employees gave of their time and skill, and built their livelihood, should combine to meet the amount owed. It is only fair!

  6. Gus Thomas
    U is a Real Asshole
    They Not Lookin for Sympathy from the Public
    They jus want to get paid for their Services for the Years they Work
    How wud u feel if was u or ur children or wife or Mother
    Or father
    Brothers n Sisters eh tel me
    U is a Damn Hypocrit

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