ST JOHN’S, Antigua – LIAT’s top management has said it remains dedicated to reaching a suitable settlement with its pilots on a number of outstanding issues, including a pension fund.
In a press statement, LIAT said it was already in discussions with the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) on issues it raised at its August 16 press conference.
Last week, the pilots said they were adopting a new strategy in their long-standing quarrel with the airline and would be seeking a higher level of discussion. LIALPA said it was aiming to hold talks on its concerns, in the future, with the three shareholder governments, Antigua & Barbuda, St Vincent & the Grenadines and Barbados.
LIAT, however, responded noting that, “all of the issues raised during the August 16 press conference had been the subject of on-going discussions between LIALPA and LIAT’s Management.”
LIAT’s Corporate Communications Manager Desmond Brown said both LIAT and LIALPA had agreed in July 2009 to refer to binding and final arbitration on a number of disputed items.
“The arbitration ruling had been issued in June 2010 and the company had held a number of meetings with LIALPA to discuss the arbitration award and to agree to the signing of a Collective Agreement incorporating the rulings of the Arbitration Panel,” Brown said.
Brown said that the company had drafted the amendments ordered by the Tribunal and submitted these drafts to the union for their review. He added, however that LIALPA had failed either to prepare its own draft or to accept the LIAT drafts and continued to refuse to sign an amended Collective Agreement.
The airline representative said the company remained dedicated to the enactment of the arbitration award and had already proceeded towards the full implementation of the award.
He said the company is keen on reaching an accommodation with LIALPA on the various issues within the framework of the binding and final provisions of the Arbitration.
“We understand that LIALPA may have reservations relating to some of the provisions of the arbitration award. However, there are clear procedures under the laws of Antigua & Barbuda for dealing with such concerns and we have continuously urged LIALPA to use those available tools,” Brown said.
“In arbitration there will always be decisions that go against one or both parties. This has certainly been the case with this arbitration process and LIAT has taken the position that this is a legal process and there must be implementation of the award. We have pointed out that once the legal framework is in place both parties are then in a position to make adjustments based on their agreed interests. We continue to urge that LIALPA meet its obligation to accept the award.
“Notwithstanding our stated position we have agreed to another meeting with LIAPA as we believe that dialogue is important. We are optimistic that that there can be movement towards resolution of the issues that have plagued LIAT-LIALPA relations,” Brown added.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)