ST JOHN’S –– Regional carrier LIAT is offering employees voluntary separation and early retirement packages, as it moves to cut staff numbers.
The offer to full-time, permanent employees, who have no disciplinary action pending against them and have been employed for more than six years, comes less than three months after shareholder governments agreed on a plan to send home 180 workers.
The Antiguan-based carrier said downsizing was the only way to ensure its survival.
“We must remove the costs that we were carrying as a larger entity. The company wishes to avoid having to impose compulsory redundancies in order to achieve this,” stated the offer document signed by director of human resources Ilean Ramsey.
However, LIAT said if it did not have enough workers opting for either voluntary separation or early retirement, it would have to go the route of redundancy.
Interested employees have until 4 p.m. on May 19 to submit their applications.
According to the Antigua Observer, veteran trade unionist Stafford Joseph has advised LIAT workers interested in parting ways with the company to negotiate for more benefits than stipulated under the Labour Code.
“. . . Work is hard to get,” he told the newspaper, contending that workers could “easily negotiate a six-month or year’s salary” in addition to what is legally owed them.
Following meetings on February 14 at Hilton Barbados, attended by Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Dominica’s Roosevelt Skerrit and Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Public Utilities, Civil Aviation and Transportation Robin Yearwood, as well as LIAT officials, a plan to return LIAT to profitability was outlined.
It involved reducing staff numbers and shifting LIAT’s fleet base to Barbados, both of which have subsequently been resisted by Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne.