The Union presenting former LIAT workers say they are ready to discuss the latest 50% cash-only offer outlined by Prime Minister Gaston Browne where severance and other payments to these workers are concerned
Browne said in parliament recently that he is willing to offer 50% cash only to the ex-employees after the first compassionate offer of 50% in cash and bonds fell flat.
General Secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union David Massiah said on the radio Monday that he heard the announcement and has since written to PM Browne seeking an audience.
“On the table, I know there is an offer of cash, lands, and bonds. I cannot tell you what else is on the table now, other than what the prime minister said in Parliament indicating that the ABWU refuses to negotiate in good faith and he is now offering a 50% cash”.
“Well, we wrote to him saying that we are ready to sit down and negotiate and discuss. So, we are accepting his offer and we are ready to sit down”, Massiah said.
The letter was issued last week Thursday and the ABWU has not received any communication from the government just yet.
Massiah said he heard about the offer for the first time in Parliament. “He indicated clearly that the ABWU is not representing the workers but that is not true. We are representing the workers. We are still there. What is happening is that this government has disenfranchised workers in Antigua and Barbuda,” Massiah said.
Browne has always maintained that any demand for the government to pay 100% in severance is unreasonable because Antigua and Barbuda only owned 32% of the shares.
The regional airline, LIAT (1974), was forced to close its operations and lay off its staff in March 2020 after the Covid pandemic exacerbated its financial difficulties.
The government has since held discussions on nearly EC$80 million owed to hundreds of ex-workers. However, the government maintained its position of a 50 percent payment to the workers.
Owned by a handful of Caribbean shareholder governments, LIAT 1974 Ltd had provided crucial regional connectivity for decades but folded when the COVID pandemic exacerbated its long-standing financial woes.
A new downsized incarnation of the carrier has been operating a reduced schedule with a limited workforce since November 2020.