In separate meetiings with workers and their trade union representatives this week, I assured them of this.
LIAT employees have not received salary since March and in recent days, news surfaced about the possible liquidation of the airline because of its growing financial problems which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Members of Cabinet are of the opinion that we have a moral responsibility to assist workers during this difficult time. It is not their fault that they are suddenly and unceremoniously relieved of jobs after years of dedicated service and sacrifice. We have therefore committed to ensuring that they benefit from the economic stimulus package which is specifically designed to provide some relief to impacted persons across the country.
The benefits provided under the stimulus package will cater to the immediate needs of the LIAT workers. The impending liquidation of the airline means that workers will be entitled to other benefits.
I have also indicated Government’s willingness to engage in discussions to determine what can be done. There are many demands upon Government now, at a time when we are also faced with a significant reduction in revenue. Therefore, Government cannot commit to honouring all of LIAT’s commitment to workers but we can certainly engage in discussion with the staff and the union to determine how we can help.
It is also important to make the point that regional air transport is necessary and whether it is provided by LIAT or some other airline or combination of airlines, at least some of the workers, will be employed.