Ex-LIAT workers say reduced Social Security pension is another plank in their financial insecurity

The latest LIAT (1974) workers to be sent home have a new worry:
Their diminished Social Security pension means the older ones
among them will not be able to retire, as planned.

Speaking for several colleagues, one of the airline veterans now on
the breadline explains that, after they were called back to work in
2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they resumed their usual duties
– but at reduced pay.

Given LIAT’s limited schedule once it began service, the ex-employee
says the lower rate of pay continued until their current termination,
which is effective today, February 5.

What they did not realize, however, was the impact that the almost-
four years of lower salary would have on the calculation of their
Social Security pensions.

“All the years that we were contributing at the maximum level have
essentially been canceled out by our income from 2020,” the person

Accordingly, the ex-worker notes that those who are currently
eligible for pension will “not be able to make it.”
Instead of going into retirement “after 30 -40 years of work, they’re
going to have to find some little thing to do in order to make ends

Those workers who were not recalled to work in 2020 are facing
pretty much the same problem, the source says.

Many of them were forced to take lower-paying jobs wherever they
could find them, thus reducing the value of their previous Social
Security contributions.

In the meantime, the now-former employee says, they are waiting
for the Antigua and Barbuda Government to resume talks with their
bargaining agent, the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union.
They say that Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s earlier offer of 50
percent of their severance and benefits was “just talk,” as they
received no firm offer “in writing.”

“While some workers were willing to take the combination of cash
and land, we heard that we had to speak to our individual
representatives about getting the land,” one person says. “There
was never any designated allotment for the LIAT workers. Never!”
And with the subsequent 32 percent offer, the person adds, nothing
changed for the locals, even as their counterparts in Barbados and
St. Lucia received ex gratia payments from their governments.

At present, the former workers are extremely angry over statements
made by LIAT 2020 spokesman Daven Joseph, who recently chided
the Workers’ Union and urged it to return to the bargaining table in
the ex-employees’ interest.

“He deliberately misrepresented the situation, knowing full well that
it was the prime minister who shut down all communication with
the Union,” a furious former staff member says.

The last set of workers has been promised a computation of their
entitlements within 45 days of their official termination. However,

the company’s administrator, Cleveland Seaforth, has said he does
not know when they will actually be paid.

Meanwhile, some of the former staff reportedly have been offered
work with LIAT 2020, whenever it materializes – but at 70 percent
of their original salary, they claim.

They, and the other terminated employees, continue to wait to see
whether the assets of LIAT (1974) Ltd. – aircraft, route rights,
goodwill, etc. – will be sold for their benefit or simply “acquired” for
the benefit of the takeover carrier.