BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, April 12, 2019 (CMC) – The cash-strapped, Antigua-based, regional airline, LIAT, says despite pilots and its workers, across all its destinations, agreeing to a six percent salary cut, it is still facing a severe financial problem and may require additional salary cuts from its employees.
According to an internal document, seen by the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), following a shareholders’ meeting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, last Friday, the regional airline said that the six percent cut did not go far enough.
“The shareholders are of the view that this proposal did not go far enough, and that the six percent cut did not meet the immediate cost reduction objectives of the company, at this time,” the document revealed.
The document added that the shareholders are “considering additional measures, to address the financial challenges of the airline, and that it would continue to update staff on discussions and the proposed measures that will be agreed upon”.
Efforts to get an official comment from the airline, have so far proven unsuccessful.
Last month, pilots, employed with the regional airline, agreed to a less than 10 percent salary cut, in a bid to keep the airline in the air.
The shareholder governments of the airline — Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines — have been seeking to get other Caribbean countries to contribute a total of US$5.4 million in emergency funding, needed to keep the company airborne.
Trade unions, representing the airline’s workers at its 15 destinations, had, during a six-hour meeting in Barbados, with Prime Minister Mia Mottley, her St. Vincent and the Grenadines counterpart, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, agreed, in principle, to a six percent salary cut, pending further deliberations with their members.
President of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIAPA), Carl Burke, said, last month, that during a meeting with LIAT, a request had been made for the 10 percent pay cut, across the board, and that the pilots “wrote to them and said we did not have the confidence in LIAT’s management to take us out (of this)… and we were very cautious about making an investment in the company at this time”.
He said that pilots “actually voted” on the salary cut, which has since been communicated to Prime Minister Mottley.
The workers had also agreed to allow LIAT to suspend its matching contributions to the five percent deductions from their wages, for a pension fund scheme.
The Antigua-based Observer radio reported, today, that there seems to have been a misunderstanding between the workers and LIAT management, regarding the payment cuts.
It said that the workers were of the impression that the salary cuts would come from their basic salaries, while LIAT thought the six percent cut would be from all the earnings of the worker.