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LIAT workers end strike

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

LIAT workers end strike

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ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Ground staff employed with the regional airline, LIAT, ended their two-day strike action late on yesterday after their union and the company agreed to refer the dispute to the the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Department.
General Secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union (ABWU), David Massiah, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that as a result, the workers have returned to their jobs in keeping with the country’s labour laws.
He said the two sides will meet again tomorrow.
The ABWU has been accusing the cash-strapped airline of dragging the negotiations for a new collective agreement indicating that the present accord ends today.
Massiah maintains the union has laid a “sensible offer” on the negotiating table despite it being rejected by LIAT.
The ABWU has offered to take all monetary allowance items off the negotiating table and is seeking a three per cent increase in the second and third year of the new agreement.
But Massiah said the airline has turned down the offer, proposing instead a two per cent wage hike over the period.
“The company is saying that they cannot agree to our position and what made the situation even more insensitive is that when we are talking the company issued a memo to the staff in Antigua that they will not be able to meet salaries for June.
“We felt from a union standpoint that the company should have known that there some challenges and could have issued a memo a bit earlier,” Massiah said.
On Tuesday, LIAT said it is committed to the maintenance of good industrial relations with all its unions and has already commenced a new round of negotiations for new contract agreements.
In a letter sent to the union earlier on Wednesday, LIAT said that “you are aware the Company is experiencing severe cash flow constraints based on the current financial and economic conditions in the region.
“We are unable to meet your demands for a wage increase and we have also not paid wages in accordance with the Company’s usual pay cycle resulting in a delay for a few days. Perhaps it was these issues which precipitated several of the ground staff, represented by you, the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU), to walk off the job yesterday and today”.
It reminded the union officials that the company “ met with you in the spirit of good industrial relations to convey our regret at the actions of the staff and also to find a rational resolution to the issues, as best we could in the present financial conditions.” (CMC)

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