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PM urges former LIAT employees to ‘pressure their union’

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne is urging former LIAT employees to pressure their
union – the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) – and to accept the
compassionate offer by his government as a settlement for their severance
Speaking on the Browne and Browne Show on Saturday, PM Browne accused the
union of being a stumbling block in arriving at a settlement in the matter, because
the union had politicized the issue.
The prime minister said more than a year ago, the government first made an offer
of fifty percent of the outstanding monies to the former LIAT workers, but that
there was very little acceptance since the majority of the workers were heeding
their union’s call for one hundred percent payment. According to PM Browne that
offer has since been reduced to the thirty-two percent shareholding that the
government controlled in their airline.
He emphasized that the offer was a compassionate payment, one that the
government was not legally obligated to do, and he is calling on the former
employees of the airline to accept the offer, as it is not indefinite.
“Let’s face it, paying a small cadre of workers over $100 million could never be in
the best interest of the country when we have so many developmental challenges;
so many areas that needed funding. We have so many creditors that have not been
paid, even going back to the UPP Administration, how do we justify not paying
our just debts but giving LIAT staff $120 million, which they do not deserve?” he
He added that paying a smaller amount of $32 million, representing the
government’s shareholding in LIAT (1974) Ltd., while it would create a strain on
the government, is much more affordable.
PM Browne takes the view that the ABWU, which is aligned with the opposition
UPP, has been playing politics with the matter by urging the workers not to accept
what he describes as a very good offer. This, he believes, is a mistake.
“Now if the former LIAT employees are smart they would start to take things into
their own hands because the ABWU continues to play politics and is driven by
politics. They know that the government does not owe the staff of LIAT. What

they need to do is to put some pressure on the union to accept the government’s
offer,” he advised.
The prime minister also disclosed that the matter with former LIAT workers is
already having some unexpected consequences. He reported that some former
employees of Stanford have approached the government seeking a payoff based on
what the government intends to do for LIAT staff. Additionally, workers at CAS
(Caribbean Airport Services) have also approached the government on similar
“People don’t know the magnitude of the problem we are creating by making this
offer to the LIAT workers when we are not legally liable to do so,” he remarked.

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