The organisation representing the terminated pilots of regional airline LIAT has adopted a wait-and-see position on court proceedings that could determine the financial future of its members in Barbados and other sister territories.
When asked by Barbados TODAY to give an update on the issue surrounding the terminated pilots, President of the Leeward Islands Airline Association (LIALPA) Patterson Thompson said today there was nothing to say except that he was waiting until the court process was completed.
“There is a court process. I rather wait until that court process is finished before I make any statement. I don’t want to derail anything…there is nothing to say right now,” Patterson said.
“To me, if there was a plan now and [it stated] this is the direction we are going in and this is X and this is Y and they started to play the fool, then that’s another story. But right now, what am I going to tell you?” he asked.
Patterson said while he feels the pain and suffering which his fellow pilots are experiencing having not been paid for months, it’s a matter before the courts and one he wish he could speed up but he can’t.
The airline is currently under a court-approved administrator who is overseeing the restructuring of the Antigua-based company.
And the LIALPA president contended that whatever update there may be is “exactly what the administrator said.”
Speaking on a recent ABS television show, the Administrator Cleveland Seaforth told viewers that the 120 days which he had to submit a report to the High Court on the findings for the way forward for LIAT had expired on November 20 after starting the work in July this year.
Seaforth said that report was submitted to the court but it is not recommending the liquidation of the company.
“We are asking for some more time for the discussions with prospective investors to take place. Obviously sometime soon the matter is going to be heard by the court and then the court is going to advise on the next steps of the administration process,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) which represents some of the ground staff of the LIAT in Barbados has been insisting that the terminated employees be paid their severance and all other outstanding monies to help bring a speedy end to their immediate suffering.
Deputy General Secretary Dwaine Paul said on the union’s radio programme Workers’ Viewpoint, that while he agrees employees need to make sacrifices, they equally need to share in whatever sweets are available.
“They say labour has to make sacrifices. We know that…but what we are saying is if we make sacrifices now, we should be looking at ways to share in the gains going forward. We are being asked to make sacrifices to keep companies alive, but when companies return to profitability they do not include labour in that profitability,” Paul stated, although not specifically identifying LIAT.
Some workers have blamed the failure of LIAT on the management of the airline.
“We go back to the old mentality to say your wage is all that you are supposed to get and the few shareholders and directors are to benefit from…are to monopolise the fruits and benefits of the labour force,” he added.
Meanwhile, LIAT flights took to the skies again on Monday as it launched a new limited service to a number of regional countries including Barbados.
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) which represents local pilots have also been calling for financial relief for them as some are on the brink of being evicted or losing their homes,
More than 500 LIAT workers have been terminated with only a few kept to run the limited services offered by the company.