by STAFF WRITER
December 21, 2021
ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Dec 21, CMC – The Antigua and Barbuda government is providing two million dollars (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents)”to meet partial satisfaction of the cash component of the compassionate payout” to former local employees of the regional; airline, LIAT.
A statement issued by the Office of the Prime Minister said that the funds are being made available to the LIAT Court-appointed Receiver for distribution to resident former LIAT workers.
“This sum is intended to meet partial satisfaction of the cash component of the compassionate payout which the Antigua and Barbuda Government has volunteered. It extends this compassionate offer, though the Government has no legal obligation to make any such payments,” the statement said.
It added that the payment “is a compassionate payment, intended to bring some Christmas cheer to those who have been unable to earn incomes since they were severed” and that the “the payment is limited to former LIAT workers resident in Antigua and Barbuda”.
Last week, the Gaston Browne administration maintained its position regarding the severance offer made to former employees of the airline insisting that it “will not be involved in any further discussions regarding any possibility of negotiations of the issue of its compassionate offer”.
A statement issued after the weekly Cabinet meeting, noted that the matter had been discussed including “the offer made to meet 50 per cent of the severance cost of all LIAT workers.
“The unions have yet to accept the legal position regarding the Government’s obligations and are still seeking to engage the Government with the aim of having further negotiations. The Cabinet has re-iterated its position and will not be involved in any further discussions regarding any possibility of negotiations of the issue of its compassionate offer,” the statement noted.
The Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) had asked the government to reconsider the position with the regional trade unions saying they were united in seeking the millions of dollars owed to the workers and have rejected the latest offer from the shareholder governments.
The airline is owned by the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). Last year, Browne said that a decision had been taken that would allow Barbados and SVG to turn over their shares in LIAT to Antigua & Barbuda for one EC dollar.
Last month, Prime Minister Browne appealed to Caribbean trade unions to re-think their positions regarding the latest offer made to laid-off workers of the airline.
The government has said it will be unconscionable to use tax payers money to pay LIAT’s staff 100 per cent of the monies owed to them, even when the governments liability was no more than 34 per cent of the value of LIAT’s ownership.
“The offer of a compassionate payment is the result of a clear understanding that the share value is $0.00 and the government has no legal obligation to pay,” it added.