Former LIAT employees may get some reprieve this Christmas, as Prime Minister Gaston Browne is promising some degree of severance in time for the season.
The airline’s former workers have been on the breadline for well over a year, having been terminated after the pandemic grounded the carrier in 2020.
Browne, on Saturday, November 13, accused the unions representing the workers of not coming to the table with clean hands. He said they continue to call for 100 percent severance, which is not possible at this time.
Browne has proposed covering 50 percent of the monies owed, in addition to offering lands and university scholarships to the unemployed workers.
He says the unions’ continued push for full severance is an unreasonable proposition, especially at a time when the Antigua and Barbuda Government owned only 32 to 35 percent of the shares in the regional carrier.
According to Browne, the unions are behaving as though they have “great negotiating power,” but continue to draw out the negotiations by making unreasonable demands.
Meanwhile, he says one way in which the Government can assist the former workers
— especially those who still find themselves displaced, without an income, and experiencing hardship – is to purchase the chattel assets of the airline from the administrator.
Browne says this will make several million dollars available, and this money could be used, as a “preferred creditor,” to pay the former workers.
However, he emphasizes that whatever monies are used for the purchase of the chattel assets would be deducted from the 50 percent severance the Government has put on offer.
Browne says he is hoping this could be accomplished in time for Christmas.
A former LIAT worker tells REAL News she is not deceived.
“The Prime Minister is looking votes from us in the next election. He thinks that a Christmas money will make people forget what we went through since last year. But my memory is long,” she declares. “Me nah forget!”