The Waterfront and Allied Workers Union (WAWU) says the cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT, is a seeking a further extension of the lay-off period it first gave to its employees as it moves to restructure its operations.
WAWU secretary general, Kertist Augustus, said that the union “has just received communication from LIAT indicating that there is going to be further extension of the lay-off period.
“Some workers were in fact given a return date of September 13, that date has since passed and therefore we now have communication to the effect that that lay-off s going to be extended up to the 16th of October.
“Now if on recalls, the layoffs commenced in April of this year, therefore by our law in Dominica after six weeks workers can in fact claim redundancy but that has not been effected by the workers and there was and is the feeling with what is happening with the function of LIAT’s administrator, there is the possibility that LIAT will be flying again,” Augustus said.
Earlier this month, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said he was still awaiting formal responses from Caribbean governments regarding his request to write-off the debt owed to them by the financially-strapped airline.
In July, the High Court in St. John’s granted a petition allowing for the reorganization of the airline, the appointment of an administrator as well as staying all proceedings relating to the liquidation of the company.
The decision of the court in granting the petition came as the government moved ahead with its efforts to reorganise the airline which owes creditors in excess of EC$100 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents).
Apart from Antigua and Barbuda, the former major shareholder governments of the airline are Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica.
Browne said he had written to the leaders of those countries and was awaiting an official response to his request.
Augustus said that his union would be following up on the latest developments specifically the letter from the airline.
“We have heard in addition that some Caribbean governments have more or less agreed to waive or to forgive the debt of LIAT which will in fact allow for certain funds to be available to LIAT so that they could in fact pay the severance and or redundancy of the workers.
“We have not had any confirmed position from the administrator because the unions were supposed to have had a second round of discussion with the administrator. But if the workers elect to go the route of redundancy then they can in fact once the payments have been made by LIAT for them…at the Social Security they could in fact make a claim so that Social Security could pay on behalf of LIAT and afterwards get their funds paid back to them,” Augustus said.
“We are going to be following up with this because we want to know, and I have raised the question already, whether workers could get something to do in the interim just to allow them to get some funds, disposable incomes so that they can continue maintaining their standard of living,” he added.