“To each, his own” PM Browne reacts to Barbados LIAT severance

Editorial Staff

Mar 20, 2023

“Now, I’m not going to comment on the offer…to each his own and I am not part of the governance of Barbados.”

 These were the immediate public relations from Prime Minister Gaston Browne about the news that Mia Mottley had opted to pay former LIAT workers $75,000 in severance pay.

Last week Friday Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said her government would pay severance to terminated LIAT employees to the tune of ten million dollars

“My understanding, though, since it has been brought to my attention, is that Barbados has limited its liability by only making an offer to Barbadians. So, you’re looking at less than 100 workers”, Browne said on Saturday.

It means, according to the prime minister, that certain “entities” expects his government to pay the remaining $100 million, which he said is unreasonable

“Since Barbados has a 52% shareholding and is only covering ten percent, are you telling the government in Barbados what to cover?”

“But I’m of the view that all of the shareholder governments of LIAT have a moral obligation to treat this issue equitably and to apply a regional solution rather than national treatment”

“Because if all of us pursue a national treatment, then obviously there’s going to be displacements. And again, we’re all part of the same integration movement”, he added

Browne maintains that the government does not have any legal liability but a moral obligation.

“And the Antigua and the Barbuda Workers Union has tried to spin what is a superior offer, which could result in a liability of about $50 Million to the government and people of Antigua and Barbuda compared to Barbados. They tried to convince the workers here and the people of Antigua and Barbuda that my administration’s offer is inadequate, that we do not care about the staff, and that if we cared about them, we would do 100%” Browne added.

He said while not being insensitive, if the ABWU wants to continue to demand 100%, negotiations will remain at an impasse.

“We are prepared to work with the ABWU even to go to Barbados to ask them to broaden their offer to include the other workers. I do accept that we should try and make all of the workers whole but Antigua and Barbuda cannot be called upon to make all the workers whole…” he added

All this comes as the Barbados Workers’ Union called on Antigua and Barbuda and other regional governments to follow the example set by Bridgetown.

The Barbados Workers Union Deputy General Secretary Dwaine Paul said over the weekend that “while the resolution of the issue was a long time in coming, the union is happy to have fought steadfastly on behalf of the former LIAT workers”

Browne and the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union are butting heads about the severance payment issue for the former workers. The prime minister has said repeatedly that his ABLP government will not pay 100% severance. The suggestion he said is unreasonable because the twin island state owns a mere 34% of LIAT shares

The prime minister said further talks will be held with the union in the absence of the other shareholders but the ABWU General Secretary said Browne is not the one to say when the doors on negotiations should close.


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