Liat Union representative to take up offer to meet with PM Gonsalves after Easter
Jerry Howard
April 14, 2023

Liat Union representative to take up offer to meet with PM Gonsalves after Easter

The head of the St Vincent LIAT Workers Union, Jerry Howard says he intends to write to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, seeking another audience with him to discuss matters relating to severance payment for former LIAT workers. This follows a recent response by the Prime Minister on radio to a published letter from the Liat workers in which they expressed dismay “ by the lack of care or concern demonstrated by the Prime Minister”, being unable to secure an audience with him.

Last week, the Prime Minister said on WE FM that he was willing to meet with the former workers anytime after Easter.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, Howard said he had not yet written to the Prime Minister, but that he intends to seek an early audience with Gonsalves, who is a former Chairman of the airline’s Board of Directors.

“I am also hoping for a favourable response in that meeting,” Howard said.

The union’s President recalled that after the collapse of the regional carrier in 2020, he had written a letter seeking an audience with Gonsalves. He said although he was able to speak to the Prime Minister a meeting with the workers never materialized.

Howard said the general body wanted to meet with Gonsalves in 2020, to tell him about their anxieties and their concerns as it related to their jobs.

“The meeting was critical at that moment, but we did not get the meeting.

“All the other governments met with their staff within two to three weeks after the collapse of LIAT. We as the shareholder government were saying how come we can’t get a meeting?”

Howard said after ten weeks and they were still unable to get a meeting, the union issued a press release, and up to this time there has still been no meeting and he has to try to keep the workers calm.

“Now when we see St Lucia pay, and we see Barbados pay, and up to that time, we haven’t heard anything from the Prime Minister…”, Howard tapered off.

He said the union has been accused of playing politics but questioned this allegation, noting that they refused an offer by the Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) for a meeting in 2020.
Howard said that meeting would have harmed the Prime Minister politically.

“The 2020 meeting was so critical for the Prime Minister to listen to us, listen to the staff,” Howard commented.

Howard said the sum of $1.1 million is owed to the 41 former LIAT workers in St Vincent and the Grenadines, pointing out that for close to three years, the former workers have been enduring challenges and he commends them for their resilience.

Howard said if this- 2023- meeting does not come off “We would take it to mean that they simply don’t care, and I would have to go back to the body and discuss our next move.”

The union leader said the same information that is available to other governments in the region, is also available to the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, so lack of information should not be a problem.

Howard recalled that the Barbados/St Vincent run was LIAT’s number one route, so the Vincentian workers should have been the first to receive any payments.

“We should have gotten it first, we worked with some of the worst equipment for years… while being the number one route; Vincentians paid dearly to LIAT.

“We should have been before any other country…LIAT got the best of St Vincent, in so many different ways.”

In the letter published in the March, 31 edition of SEARCHLIGHT the union described as “unconscionable” its inability to secure an audience with the Prime Minister three years since the collapse of the airline.

When he spoke on WE FM recently Gonsalves said “The commitment I gave to LIAT workers still stands and we could have the discussion”.