ST. JOHN’S: Regional carrier LIAT is offering employees voluntary separation and early retirement packages as it moves to cut staff numbers.
The offer to full-time, permanent employees who have no disciplinary action pending against them and have been employed for more than six years, comes less than three months after shareholder governments agreed on a plan to send home 180 workers.
The Antigua-based carrier said downsizing was the only way to ensure its survival.
“We must remove the costs that we were carrying as a larger entity. The company wishes to avoid having to impose compulsory redundancies in order to achieve this,” said the offer document, signed by Director of Human Resources Ilean Ramsey.
However, LIAT said if it did not have enough workers opting for either voluntary separation or early retirement, it would have to go the route of redundancy.
Interested employees have until 4 p.m. on May 19 to submit their applications.
Veteran trade unionist, Stafford Joseph, has advised LIAT workers interested in parting ways with the company to negotiate for more benefits than stipulated under the Labour Code.
“Things are hard now and work is hard to get,” he said.
Joseph contended that workers “easily negotiate a six-month or year’s salary” in addition to what is legally owed to them.
Following meetings on February 14 at the Hilton Barbados, attended by Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, St. Vincent & the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, Antigua & Barbuda Minister of Public Utilities, Civil Aviation and Transportation Robin Yearwood, as well as LIAT officials, a plan to return LIAT to profitability was outlined.
It involved reducing staff numbers and shifting LIAT’s fleet base to Barbados, both of which have subsequently been resisted by Antigua & Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne.