LIAT responds to Barbados union calls for workers’ payment

By Demion McTair. Updated 8:55 p.m., Tuesday, June 16, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).

St. John’s Antigua (ONE NEWS SVG) – Regional airline, LIAT has responded to calls made by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) in Barbados to pay its Barbados-based employees.

Barbados-based news publication, 268 Today, reported on June 16 that Acting General Secretary of NUPW, Delicia Burke, whose union represents 30 Barbadian pilots, expressed concern that the workers have not been paid since March after being laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a June 16 press release, LIAT said it “considers it necessary to clarify the facts” and that “LIAT operates across several jurisdictions and we continue to engage all our Union Partners during this Covid-19 pandemic”.

“The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is not a
recognised bargaining agent for any of LIAT’s employees. Pilots are represented by the Leeward Island Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) registered in Antigua and Barbuda. The company has been in discussion with LIALPA on all issues regarding the pilot body”, LIAT said.

LIAT said “prior to the COVID crisis, the NUPW approached LIAT on certain matters, affecting Barbados based pilots, which LIAT has responded to as a matter of courtesy, as the NUPW is not the recognised bargaining agent of LIAT’s pilots”.

The regional airline said that “contrary to news reports, the
Chairman of the LIAT’s Board of Directors, Professor Owen Arthur has had no discussions with the NUPW”.

“As borders were closed across the regional network, LIAT suspended its scheduled passenger services from 16th March in certain territories and subsequently implemented a network wide suspension on April 4th. These services remain suspended through to 30th June 2020. Consequently, most of LIAT’s staff, including pilots were laid off in accordance
with labour laws. All staff including pilots were paid their full salaries for the month of March” – the airline further stated.

The release continued:

“The current pandemic has heavily impacted the company’s operations and staffing as has been the case with airlines worldwide. LIAT continues with union engagement and frequent communication to its staff on the matter. In this regard, LIAT is presently discussing the extension of the layoff period with the recognised unions in light of the continued closures, travel restrictions and slow reopening of borders across the LIAT network.”

“LIAT continues to engage with Governments across the region concerning their reopening plans and is working towards the restart of flight operations when the situation allows. LIAT’s Management continues to work with its recognised union bodies in the interest of all its employees, in these challenging times” – the airline added.

LIAT recently extended its suspension of passenger services, pending reopening of airports for regional air travel by Caribbean governments.

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