Former LIAT workers continue to be sidelined by the Gaston Browne Administration, as there have been no further attempts to hold discussions with their bargaining agent.
About two months ago, the Administration said it would no longer engage the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union (ABWU), but would speak only with shareholder governments about the former employees’ severance and terminal benefits – outstanding for over three years.
However, since that time, there has been no word from any of those governments on a resolution. And the Union’s general-secretary, David Massiah, confirms that there have been no further negotiations with the Browne Administration, either.
It appears that the Government wants to force the ex-employees to accept its “compassionate” offer, and is trying to get rid of union representation, Massiah says.
He states that any moral obligation the Government has should trump its legal obligation, and it should show compassion to the former workers, who gave of themselves to keep the airline afloat during the many challenges it faced over the decades.
Massiah notes that challenges are coming from some quarters of the OECS, since the administration of the airline has been going on for way too long. The process should have been completed in 120 days, he says, but has been considerably extended.
Since LIAT had 51 percent shares in CAS, Massiah says the Government is continuing to make both the ex-airline workers and the former CAS employees suffer, since some are still without jobs.
Therefore, he says, it is a contradiction for the Browne Administration to describe itself as a party for the working class.
According to Massiah, the regional tourism sector is also being hampered tremendously, since it seems unable to get the airline going in the right direction.