Fire Them! Union wants Liat Heads to Roll

It’s time to get rid of LIAT’S top brass. That’s the call from union boss Senator David Massiah, who said that the latest delay in payment for LIAT staff was just in another in a series of foul ups by an inept management team.

Senator Massiah, the General Secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU), which represents most of the LIAT workers, made the call yesterday during his contribution to the 2014 Budget debate. The Government appointed senator, told fellow parliamentari-ans that for too long, the airline’s management has been making a series of decisions that are not only reckless, but which put the financial viability of the airline and the jobs of hundreds of workers at risk.

“We know that there will be some turbulent times, but that has nothing to do withthe (Antigua and Barbuda) government, I thinkit’s time we look at the management team. I am standing here calling for an immediate audit of the management team that would lead to the removal of the top managers at the airline,” he declared.

This month’s delay in salary payments is the third in the last four months, starting in November last year. Affected are close to 200 flight Wednesday 19th February 2014 crew, operations and engineering staff who were made aware of the development via email last week.

Against this background, a clearly emotional Massiah made clear that enough was enough and it was time for the airline’s senior managers to go. “Remove them!” he shouted. The union boss laid the blame for much of the problems at LIAT on the poor decisions of the senior management team which he said has taken the Antigua-based airline to the precipice of disaster.

Massiah recalled that in 2012 he was part of a team of union leaders who journeyed to Barbados to meet with the shareholders of the airline. He said the union officials presented a letter detailing a list of woes at the airline. “We indicated at that time that the man agement was going awry by making decisions that were hurting LIAT and to this day they continue!” Massiah declared. He announced that he has already put Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer
on notice that the union will soon dispatch a letter to his office chronicling a litany of bad decisions taken by management at LIAT, including the recent development of late payments of salaries.

According to Massiah, the shareholder governments are not to be blamed for the latepayment problems at the airline. He noted that all the shareholder governments are themselves experiencing economic difficulties which meant that the sub- ventions may not have arrived on time.

“There are challenges with the governments yes, but the problems have much to do with the re-fleeting exercise undertaken by the airline that has been handled badly and which has costs the airline millions of dollars extra because of poor planning,” he stated.

The ABWU official reported that the airline management did not plan properly for the exercise and this led to the chaos last year when scores of flights were cancelled that forced to airline to spend huge sums of money put- ting up stranded passengers at hotels across the region.

Massiah also referred the ‘ruckus’ the union caused when it was reported that LIAT was moving staff from St John’s to Bridgetown, but said that much of the problems could be traced to that decision when six key personnel were transferred to Barbados.

He said these individuals possessed critical skills and experience and their transfer had resulted in a myriad of problems now affecting the the airline’s flight schedule.

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