by Ken Richards
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Continued late payment of salaries by LIAT could result in industrial action, the airline’s pilots have warned.
However one of the main trade unions representing LIAT workers is of the view that the struggling airline should be given an opportunity to pull itself out of its financial difficulties, without the threat of strike action hanging over its head.
Antigua-based Observer Media has been reporting that several LIAT pilots have indicated that they are fed up with receiving salaries sometimes as late as nine days after they are due at the end of each month.
The Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) is reported to have passed a motion at a recent meeting allowing the executive to take the strongest possible action on the late salaries matter.
However speaking days prior to the latest warning about possible industrial action, Chester Humphrey of Grenada’s Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU), suggested that LIAT should be given a break from strike action.
“There is a view among some of my colleagues, ‘Let’s go on strike,’ but if you go on strike for a company that already can’t pay, how does a strike help you? And how does a strike help the business?” asked Humphrey.
TAWU is one of the key trade unions representing some of the employees of the regional airline.
“I have had to be constantly explained to my members in LIAT and throughout the region that…the company is facing grave difficulties and therefore we have to learn to (cooperate). It is not an easy thing to do, because the tradition of the trade union movement is one of an adversarial relationship, but these are changed times and therefore we have to change our approach,” Humphrey said, going on to express optimism that LIAT will eventually turn things around.
The trade unionist says a regional approach will help put LIAT on a sound footing.
According to the company, its cash flow problems have been exacerbated by the servicing of a US $165 million loan for its re-fleeting programme.