Political Leader Harold Lovell is committing a United Progressive Party (UPP) Administration to paying the former LIAT workers 100% of their severance and supporting them in transitioning to new careers.
Regional shareholder governments have been dragging their feet on paying the former employees their millions in severance and other gratuities.
After having taken over the airline which was grounded two years ago, the Gaston Browne Administration, last December, made what it called a “compassionate” payment to some of workers, which will be deducted from their severance.
However, the UPP reiterates that, upon becoming the next administration, not only will the workers receive their full severance, but they will be empowered with skills training and other critical resources to reinvent themselves.
The Party suggests that, in an uncertain economic environment, full severance obligations should be determined through negotiation, consultation and compromise.
Unlike the Labour Party administration, it says, the UPP does not view payment of the former LIAT workers as a matter of “compassion,” but as a moral, legal and spiritual obligation.
Accordingly, Lovell says he stands behind his “solemn promise to fully pay all the LIAT workers,” and the Party is actively looking at several options – including a significant cash component that will allow it to make viable long-term plans.
“Other practical instruments will be considered to help settle the outstanding debt…since the Party “[wants] to ensure greater financial security for the future of these employees,” he says.
The UPP Political Leader has met with the former workers and says he found them to be reasonable and constructive in their positions.
According to him, he does not “think anyone is necessarily looking for a lump sum payment; [but they] are in search of opportunities to offset lost wages and income and to forge in a new direction, utilizing their skills and experience.”
Lovell says the former airline workers can be retrained and repositioned to fully participate in the Party’s plan to develop Antigua and Barbuda as a “Center of Aviation Excellence” and a regional logistics hub.
He says the employees are a viable talent pool who have helped to build the country’s local economy for several decades. Accordingly, his administration would integrate their legacy skills to help execute its vision for the transformation of the aviation sector.
This, Lovell says, will also be an opportunity to get their lives back on track.