News, Regional News, Travel

LIAT ex-staff take protest online

Published 3 March, 2021


Buckie Got It, St. Kitts and Nevis News Source

Article by
Emmanuel Joseph

Hundreds of long-suffering, out-of-work former LIAT workers have now created a special protest video for circulation across social media highlighting their plight for the non-payment of EC$119 million in outstanding entitlements including EC$79 million in severance outstanding for close to a year.

With their cries for help seemingly falling on deaf ears and lamenting that too many of them are on the brink of losing their homes and other personal possessions, the terminated staffers representing various departments of the company have embarked on a virtual placard-bearing protest action.

The video, which opens up to soft, haunting piano music and the visual message “severed LIAT workers are still owed and are suffering,” suggests the action is directed at LIAT’s shareholder governments.

The black-and-white photo of a grim-faced former female employee holding a placard that reads “once essential servants, now seemingly discarded” appears on screen as other photos of several other terminated co-workers follow.

A male colleague displays an equally sobering message in which he wants the major shareholder governments of Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda to know “We can no longer afford medical insurance coverage for ourselves or our families.”

Those protesting online represent pilots, engineers, flight attendants and mechanics.

“Our mortgages and rent payments are in arrears,” declares the sign held by a pilot in uniform.

Another female former employee who is on the breadline appeals to the governments to “please end the suffering, please,” while her former co-worker makes the point through her placard which stated “Our request is reasonable. We need what is ours to survive.”

Another ex-worker expressed concern that “our children’s futures are in jeopardy”, even as his former fellow employees reminded Barbados and other shareholder governments that staff has been waiting for “over 335 days without a cent of severance”.

But one of those 564 workers currently on the breadline seems to think that the damage they have suffered due to the lengthy wait for their money, may be irreparable. His placard said – “the damage suffered now from this injustice could be permanent.”

The one minute and 48 seconds video ends with a final message that reads: “For many years we have served the region diligently and at great sacrifice. We need what is due to us urgently. We need help now!”

But it is not only the former staff members who have appealed to the shareholder governments to pay up.

The Antigua and Barbuda court-approved administrator of the restructured regional airline, Cleveland Seaforth has also made a plea for the shareholders to come to the rescue of the workers.

In fact, in a letter dated January 22, 2021 and addressed to Prime Minister Mia Mottley and eight other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government, Seaforth warned the CARICOM leaders that they could be exposed legally unless some effort was made to pay the affected workers.

In that letter – a copy of which has been obtained by Barbados TODAY – Seaforth even placed Mottley and the other Heads on notice of possible legal action that could be taken against them with regards to their financial obligations to the LIAT employees.

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