Take It Or Leave It, PM Browne tells former LIAT staff

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room
LIAT employees during union meeting in 2020

Antigua and Barbuda Government Offers “Compassionate Payment” to Staff, Bypassing Union Negotiations

Prime Minister Gaston Browne over the weekend addressed the ongoing discussions surrounding payments to staff members of LIAT 1974 Limited, emphasizing the government’s stance on what he termed a “compassionate payment.”

Browne’s remarks shed light on the government’s approach to resolving financial matters for the company’s staff.

Browne began by explaining the financial situation of LIAT1974 Limited, highlighting an “accumulated deficit” and “negative equity,” indicating a lack of resources within the company for staff payments.

He clarified, “there was nothing at all for the staff,” leading to the government’s decision to intervene with a “compassionate payment.”

The Prime Minister emphasized that LIAT 1974 Limited operates as a separate entity from the government, noting that any payment from the government would be based on its shareholding, which stood at 32%. Browne stated, “even though we don’t have a legal obligation to pay, we’ll give a gift of 32%,” underlining that this payment is voluntary and not legally binding.

Regarding the union’s role in negotiations, Browne expressed a shift in strategy, stating, “we’ve decided to speak directly with the staff,” bypassing formal union negotiations.

He clarified that this approach is not a negotiation but rather an offer of a gift directly from the government to the employees.

Browne’s remarks also addressed the union’s demands, stating, “they want 100%,” but the government is firm on its offer of 32%. He emphasized that this offer is final, stating, “that is a firm offer,” and reiterated that it’s up to the staff to accept or decline the gift.

In a direct and assertive tone, Browne addressed criticism, stating, “I don’t want to sound arrogant,” but highlighting that the government’s decision is based on what they see as progress, dismissing opposition from the union as hindering rather than facilitating solutions.

The Prime Minister concluded by affirming the government’s position, stating, “we will take a position: who wants it takes it, if you don’t want it, fine,” emphasizing that accepting the gift is optional and not a requirement.

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