The General Secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) is refuting claims by the Prime Minister that the Union has rejected his offer to pay former LIAT workers 50 percent of their severance.
On his affiliated radio station last weekend, PM Gaston Browne said the Union had written to him and refused the offer, which included Government bonds and land.
However, Massiah tells a local radio station the offer was never rejected, since 50 percent is much better than nothing. He notes, however, that the Union was not happy with the proposed settlement.
This is because several issues still need to be addressed and questions answered, Massiah says.
He explains that the Union had proposed, in a letter dated May 19, that the 50 percent severance put on the table be based on the total entitlements of all the workers. However, Massiah notes that the court-appointed administrator, Cleveland Seaforth, has never responded to that counter offer.
Massiah says the Government appears to be taking the position of a dictatorship. Accordingly, he reminds Prime Minister Browne that “this is a negotiating process, and so we don’t see it as a rejection.”
Speaking to the offer of land, Massiah queries how this would apply to LIAT workers in other jurisdictions. He is concerned about where the land is coming from and whether those former employees would end up owning lands here, in Antigua.
“This is why there are a number of things [that] still need to be clarified,” the General Secretary says.
“We have countered, and put certain things on the table and asked certain questions, to arrive at a particular place. Because, while the Prime Minister is talking about lands… and so on, I don’t know how that was going to settle with my people, let’s say, in Dominica, St. Lucia, Grenada and Barbados,” Massiah elaborates.
LIAT workers who have been on the breadline since last year have been trying to get their severance and other entitlements paid, since they are facing difficult times in the midst of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Browne said, on Saturday, that the ball is still in the Union’s court, but the Government is not going to budge and will not amend its offer.
He accused the Workers Union of doing a disservice to its membership by not encouraging the former staff to accept the Government’s offer.
He further criticized the union’s leadership, saying it should advise the ex-employees of the legal position with regard to staff liabilities.