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Unions planning next step in LIAT dispute

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Unions planning next step in LIAT dispute

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Regional trade unions are expected to announce later today what strategy they will develop to force the regional airline, LIAT, meet their demands for paying three months salary in lieu of notice to dismiss workers at the airline’s city offices in the Caribbean.
President of the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL), Chester Humphrey, who is also head of the Council of LIAT Trade Unions, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that LIAT did not agree to the 90 days in lieu of notice and that he was now “in the middle of consultations with the trade union fraternity to determine what would be the response.
But he said he was hopeful that by the end of the day there would be a response from the various unions and “that will determine what we will do”.
Humphrey said he was “very disappointed” at the response of the airline “because as we say these job cuts are coming against a contracted labour market…and even in the best of the economies the labour markets are under extreme threat.
“We felt that a 90 day payment in lieu of notice was the fairest but LIAT has not found the wherewithal to comply and the unions are asking a response,’ he added.
Meanwhile, the National Workers Union (NWU) in St. Lucia has sent a letter to LIAT requesting direct talks in Castries by June 23.
“In the correspondence we reiterated the position of the National Workers Union regarding the proposed closure of LIAT’s city offices that the company had not justified its position, with respect to the closure of the Castries City Office.
“The union seeks direct and separate discussion with management in this regard, and we say further that this meeting should be with the leadership of the Union as well as with the staff of LIAT in St. Lucia so that the issue of closure and other attendant matters may be addressed,” says NWU spokesman George Goddard.
Goddard said the NWU expected a timely response and has warned that LIAT employees here should not be held responsible for any protest action as a result of the failure of the carrier to address the issue in amicable manner.
Last week, LIAT said it was confident that the regional trade unions would work with the company to effect the closure of the city ticketing offices by the end of June.
LIAT’s Corporate Communications Manager Desmond Brown said that the decision to close the CTOs formed part of the company’s strategy for reducing its operating costs. Similar CTO closures have been completed by other airlines to reduce their operating costs.
At present LIAT only maintains CTOs in six of its destinations. (CMC)

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