ST JOHN’S, Antigua – As the LIAT saga continues, officials close to the airline are calling for an audit of the company’s spending where managers are concerned.
One such person is chairman of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) Michael Blackburn, who is of the view that if the company could increase its management contingent from 33-34 in 2006 to almost 66 in 2010, one must question why such persons are not being dealt with in a manner to showcase that the company is serious about its restructuring process.
He said this is especially important, “if you are asking workers to sacrifice like I have done, but you are squandering money like there is no value.”
Blackburn, who was a guest on OBSERVER Radio’s Big Issues programme yesterday, said that while the company is laying off staff, its management continues to receive unnecessary perks.
“I have seen management getting more money than prime ministers; I have seen it,” he said.
The LIALPA chairman said he noticed no managerial positions at the company were listed in the letter outlining areas for job cuts, just ground staff.
Blackburn indicated that all parties involved need to sit down and look at ways in which they can effectively make cuts to re-organise the structure of the airline.
Blackburn also cited a number of deficiencies within its aviation department, in which persons in management have no qualification to make the decisions they are making.
“We need to go to the shareholders and say enough is enough,” he said, regarding the situation he described as “total frustration and serious double standards.”
Also supporting Captain Blackburn was a representative of the St Lucia National Workers’ Union, Lawrence Poyotte, who is of the opinion that if the company can increase its management structure in such a short space of time, one must question whether the company is serious about restructuring.
In fact, the trade unionist representing LIAT workers in St Lucia has accused the airline’s management of fuelling rather than quelling conflict between itself and workers.
Poyotte told The Big Issues that there are persons in the company’s Human Resources Department who help to create conflict between managers and the workers.
All of the company’s bargaining agents on Friday boycotted a meeting in Antigua to discuss plans to send home workers to facilitate outsourcing.
In addition, the group, chaired by Senator Chester Humphrey, has put management on notice that unions are not prepared to hold “any discussions on issues of mass termination of employees by reason of redundancy as an isolated matter.”
They have instead called for a comprehensive restructuring plan to be put forward by the management of the 55-year-old company at least a month in advance of any meeting.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)