LIAT announces new Grenada schedule
ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Sept 28, CMC – The regional airline, LIAT, Friday announced changes to its flight schedule to and from Grenada where it faces possible industrial action by employees demanding the payment of one million dollars (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) by the end of this month as part of the outstanding five million dollars in arrears to them.
The workers have been on a strict work to rule and are backing their bargaining agent – the Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) – which wrote to the cash-strapped airline earlier this month on the payment issue.
The union said that the arrears are owed for overtime and meal allowances dating back to 1983 and last month, LIAT workers downed tools in protest over the non-payment of the outstanding wages, forcing the airline to re-schedule or cancel many of its daily flights.
LIAT said its new schedule would go into effect on October 2, and that the island would be omitted from a number of daily flights operated by the company.
Corporate Communications Manager Desmond Brown said the decision to cut back on services follows an assessment of the performance of the Grenada market.
“In recent times we have seen a significant drop in demand for seats in that market,” Brown said, adding that “based on the results of market research we had no choice but to reduce the number of daily flights to/from Grenada.
“LIAT will continue to assess the viability of the Grenada market in its network,” Brown said, adding “LIAT regrets any inconvenience caused as a result of the cancellations”.
TAWU president Chester Humphrey could not be immediately reached for a comment on the latest move by the airline, but earlier this month said despite efforts to reach a settlement on the issue, nothing has materialised and the letter to the airline is the latest proposal to bring about an amicable solution.
He said the request for the one million dollar payment had been done on the basis that the “company would have paid off in three instalments beginning of August 2011, half a million dollars, comprising EC$410,000 payable by LIAT and the government of Grenada…proposed 90,000 dollars.
“That figure has now reached 900,000 dollars and the workers have made a more forthright demand and that is LIAT ought to pay a million dollars by the end of September…and the payment plan as to how it will service the rest,” Humphrey said.
Humphrey said that since Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer made a recommendation to end the previous work stoppage “nothing has been done.
Spencer had suggested an offer of EC$ 800,000 in December last year following industrial action by LIAT workers that threatened the island’s carnival
The workers, who were owed six million EC dollars in outstanding arrears, have agreed to accept EC$500,000 (US$185,180) with the outstanding matters to be dealt with during arbitration.