Workers’ Union official says the secrecy surrounding the administration of LIAT gives rise to speculation and questions

The Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union (ABWU) is asking the Browne Administration whether it is hiding information about the administration of LIAT (1974) Ltd., since it appears that the process is being conducted in the dark.

If Prime Minister Gaston Browne is genuinely interested in the well-being of the former airline workers – as he has claimed to be – “then why hasn’t this process been more transparent?” the Union asks.

General Secretary David Massiah is speculating that information is being withheld, deliberately, from the ex-employees.

“Perhaps this is the reason why the prime minister has been so vehemently opposed to dialogue with the Union and the workers for over two years,” Massiah says.

Accordingly, he says there are many lingering questions surrounding the administration process, including its current status; whether any reports have been submitted, as required by law; and whether the administrator, Cleveland Seaforth, has kept the court abreast of his progress and sought the extensions of time for his continued operations.

In addition, Massiah is asking the Government what, exactly, are its proposals for paying the former employees’ severance.  And he wants to know how soon these will be effected, given that   Barbados has decided to pay its LIAT employees the equivalent of their severance entitlements.

However, in an attempt to shift the spotlight from these glaring questions, the general secretary says that Browne has resorted to accusing the Union of playing politics with the LIAT severance matter.

Massiah accuses the prime minister of repeatedly trying to drag this industrial-relations matter into the sphere of politics.  But whereas the Union has always existed to defend the rights of workers, he notes that Browne, primarily, is a political actor. 

He cites the organization’s long track record of securing justice for workers, and he points to the case of the former Half Moon Bay employees for whom the Union ultimately secured severance after almost seven years.

What kept the Union focused during that fight was its sacred belief that workers’ rights are human rights and that severance is a right that must be respected and administered fairly, Massiah says.

Accordingly, he is calling, again, for genuine dialogue between the Government and the former workers’ bargaining agent, since this is the only way to resolve the severance and other related matters.