Over a million dollars is owed to former employees of LIAT (1974) Ltd., who had been stationed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines up to the time of the airline’s closure court appointed administration.
However, there is no legal obligation by this country’s government to pay severance to these former employees of the airline.
According to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, as he responded to a question posed by East Kingstown Parliamentary Representative Fitzgerald Bramble during the March 16 sitting of Parliament,information he received from the court appointed Administrator- Cleveland Seaforth, in response to a January 2021 letter from him, there were 39 workers stationed here up to the time of LIAT’s closure.
They were owed retroactive payments amounting to EC$10,910.48; severance payments totaling EC$887,588.73; and holiday pay of EC$245,040.22.
The grand total of indebtedness stood at $1,143,539.43.
The information received from Seaforth also detailed the names of all former employees of LIAT (1974) Ltd. stationed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who were severed as a consequence of the closure of the airline and its placement in administration.
No request was made for information as it related to Vincentians who worked for the airline elsewhere, e.g. pilots who were employed in Antigua.
A request was made to provide details for the computation of a possible payment of severance, salaries, holidays with pay and length of service for each of the employees under the specified category.
Dr. Gonsalves told the Parliament that he received from Seaforth in February, the draft severance computation for the workers here.
The Prime Minister, though, had made it clear in his January letter that, “The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a shareholder of LIAT(1974) Ltd., does not acknowledge that it has a legal obligation to make any severance payment or accord holidays with pay beyond that which, if any, arises from the administration of the company.”
He alluded to a promise of a compassionate payment to former workers by the Antiguan government, i.e. 50% of what was owed in cash, land or government bonds.
But, he maintained that the SVG government did not owe, nor was it obligated to pay any severance, and stressed that he was awaiting the process from the Administration and did not want to preempt anything.