The St. Lucia government has made good on its promise to pay compensation to former employees of the cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT (1974) Ltd.
The former local LIAT employees received bond certificates last weekend from the government and are cash redeemable and can also be used as collateral to secure loans.
Labour Minister Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte advised the workers to use the benefits wisely.
“Do not just blow it up in one day but use the economics that women use. Women are very good at managing money,” she said.
“I know you have waited a long time,” the minister said, thanking the former LIAT employees for their patience.
The Office of Prime Minister Phillip J Pierre said that the approximate compensation package for the former LIAT employees as well as that of a garment company, Majestic Industries, exceeds EC$6.3 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents).
According to Albert-Poyotte, former Majestic Industry workers have been waiting for almost 18 years for compensation.
LIAT (1974) has since gone into liquidation after more than four decades of operation in the region and Pierre said that his administration had entered into an agreement with the non-management LIAT workers who had been terminated by the closure of the company.
The governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines – the four major shareholders of LIAT – in August 2022 resolved to liquidate the debt-ridden airline and transfer its assets to a new company LIAT 2020 (Antigua). The existing airline has been in court-appointed administration in Antigua and Barbuda since July 2020.
All this comes as the government of Antigua and Barbuda is still in the negotiation stage with the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union over severance and other payments.
The government’s last offer was a 50% compassionate payment. The ABWU has since written to Prime Minister Gaston Browne requesting a meeting to further talk about his offer.
It is unclear whether that meeting will take place before the holiday season. (Antigua News Room, Loop News)