ST JOHN’S, Antigua – LIAT workers in Grenada have accepted EC $500,000 (US $185,000) to temporarily end almost two weeks of industrial action, but the dispute has still been turned over to an arbitration tribunal.
President of the Technical Allied Workers’ Union (TAWU) Senator Chester Humphrey told The Daily OBSERVER the suspension of the go-slow that the staff voted on yesterday “is to allow the airline to respond to the desperate situation of thousands of travellers.”
This came hours after LIAT’s Board of Directors in a teleconference meeting agreed to offer a lump sum of half million dollars with the intention being that acceptance by the union would mean an end to the dispute.
But Humphrey said, “Taking this money ahead of the arbitration does not affect the merit or demerits of the case. The tribunal will make a fair and equitable judgment based on the evidence provided.”
The Grenada government will provide EC $90,000 of the half-million, which is to be paid in tranches beginning the middle of this month and ending on November 30.
The workers are claiming EC $6 million in extended-hour overtime pay and meal allowances and according to Humphrey, “The $500,000 is part payment of what is owed us. That is not in exchange for surrendering our demand.”
Grenada’s Labour Minister Glynis Roberts as well as representatives from LIAT and TAWU will meet today to begin the process of selecting members of the tribunal that is to be constituted no later than next Friday.
“It is to commence and complete its work immediately thereafter with the expectation that it would give its award within 14 days there from,” Humphrey said.
The regional carrier has indicated it’s only prepared to meet arrears dating back to 2005 when a new collective agreement took effect, but TAWU is insisting on payment dating back to 1983.
LIAT workers have been on a go-slow since last Monday, forcing the airline to either cancel or divert flights away from Grenada.
Corporate Communications Manager Desmond Brown said LIAT will resume full services to/from Grenada by today. And where possible the airline will seek to add capacity to meet the demand for seats to Grenada which is about to commence its 2011 Carnival celebrations.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)