ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) has rejected suggestions that the embattled LIAT (1974) Ltd should be scrapped and a new LIAT (2012) Ltd instituted to replace the existing legal entity. The opposition party is also demanding to be involved in any major decision-making pertaining to LIAT.
Leader of the ALP Lester Bird said, “The solution to a labour dispute cannot be the creation of a new legal entity. Prime Minister Gonsalves’ proposal does not address the issue and further complicates the finding of a reasonable solution in quick time.”
The ALP, in a statement yesterday, called for inclusion in any consultation and decision-making that pertains to LIAT and insisted on consultations that would include all stakeholders, in search of a quick solution.
Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves, speaking on OBSERVER AM last week, expressed a desire to liquidate LIAT and move to iteration, LIAT 2012, with additional shareholders.
“One prime minister said to me that in the new year, they are coming in as an equity partner and … I want more governments to come in,” Gonsalves said.
“I have already been calling for more governments to put in market support.”
That suggestion came as LIAT’s flights throughout the Caribbean were severely hampered by the airline’s most recent industrial action by the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) over the controversial dismissal of their union chairman Captain Michael Blackburn.
The ALP leader said the situation had developed into a crisis and he called for a long-term solution to avoid any more flare-ups of industrial action.
“The pilots’ reactions to management’s dismissal of the chairman of their union has created a crisis. The task of management now is to solve that crisis, minimising the harm being inflicted on LIAT,” Bird said.
The opposition leader said as a result of the action, LIAT lost nearly one million dollars per day and suffered a loss of confidence by the travelling public of the 26 destinations it serves. It also left thousands of passengers stranded.