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AS I SEE THINGS: Industrial action at LIAT

Brian Francis

AS I SEE THINGS: Industrial action at LIAT

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From all available intelligence, both the management of LIAT and their employees would have been preparing for the industrial action being taken by workers at the Maurice Bishop International Airport in Grenada.  
Whether the workers intended to hurt the travelling public and inflict undue stress on an already struggling Grenadian economy or not, the point is that they have struck a major blow at the heart of the carnival season.
Some would argue from a strictly industrial relations perspective that the workers have chosen an extremely sensitive time of the year for such action in order to force their management and probably key governments in the region into decisive action to bring about a speedy resolution to their grievances.
Thus far, that tactic, or whatever the workers’ ultimate strategy is, has failed to bring about the kind of resolution everyone, particularly the travelling public, is eagerly anticipating.
Even in the presence of incomplete information, I am prepared at this stage to give the benefit of the doubt to the workers in Grenada. That said, I am completely bemused by what precisely is their end game. This is probably one of the major issues which the travelling public ought to be made aware of if support and sympathy is to be maintained in the workers’ favour.
Take, for example, the scenario that presented itself a few days ago when I travelled from Grenada to Barbados. My flight was scheduled to leave Grenada at 8:40 p.m. The incoming flight arrived at the airport from Trinidad just about 8:30 p.m. Having already checked in and cleared security, one would have thought that in the absence of any information from the workers in relation to their industrial action, the flight would have left Grenada on time. That did not happen. The flight didn’t leave Grenada until well after 10 p.m.
On the basis of that experience alone, I wish to pose two rather undemanding questions to the striking workers: what did you achieve by deliberately delaying the flight nearly two hours? And how, in the eyes of the travelling public, are you supposed to maintain support and sympathy with such outlandish behaviour?
I certainly do not intend to speculate on the workers’ motivation. To do so would be to engage in a normative exercise. However, one would have thought that in the prevailing industrial climate, the workers would be far better off prompting the cancellation of a flight and informing the travelling public of the outcome of their protest in advance of the departure time.
Having passengers travel to the airport in time for the scheduled departure of a given flight and turn around and punish the passengers with an almost two-hour delay, when the aircraft is standing idly on the tarmac, is nothing short of inflicting punishment on individuals who do not deserve such unsympathetic treatment.
Undoubtedly, a critical message that must be sent to the striking workers is that taking industrial action is one thing; achieving desired outcomes is quite another.
With REDjet making significant progress in the regional airline industry to date, LIAT would be judicious to step up its game if it is to continue holding on to its current market share. The fallout from the industrial action taking place in Grenada does not in any way help LIAT’s cause in this regard. It is, therefore, time for LIAT’s management, the workers and the unions to all wise up.