Union seems geared for war with Administration, after prime minister resorts to insulting and bullying ex-LIAT employees

On behalf of the former workers of LIAT (1974) Ltd., the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union seems set for war with the Gaston Browne Administration over its non-payment of severance benefits and other gratuities.

General Secretary David Massiah says that, last weekend, on radio, Browne unleashed the “most despicable display of arrogance and condescending rhetoric in his continued attempt to bully and ultimately silence the cries” of the former LIAT workers.

However, Massiah says, the Union will continue defending the rights of the workers and will not allow the Government to take advantage of them.

In the general secretary’s opinion, most of the prime minister’s comments were intended to create confusion and anxiety in the minds of the former workers. 

He notes, too, that Browne does not miss an opportunity to gloat that his administration skillfully escaped its legal liability to pay severance. 

However, Massiah is reminding him that the Government, as a shareholder of the regional carrier, has at least a moral obligation to come to a reasonable settlement with the workers, who have been struggling for almost three years.

He notes that Barbados has accepted its moral obligation and awarded its affected workers an ex-gratia payment that is in keeping with their termination benefits.

In contrast, he says, the Browne Administration continues to play hardball and is attempting to leave the workers with little or nothing for their years of unwavering commitment to the struggling airline.

Further, Massiah says it is unconscionable that the Administration’s so-called compassionate payment has been reduced from an offer of 50 percent to 32 percent – with the threat of a complete withdrawal from the table.

According to the general-secretary, the Union is also gravely concerned about the handling of the administration of LIAT – which, he says, has been shrouded in secrecy and appears to be operating on an indefinite timeline.

Massiah sees this as unacceptable, since it has been almost three years that the airline went into administration.