- Written by Clive Bacchus
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): LIAT’s management and pilots now have a legal agreement that settles a pay dispute that lead to three days of industrial action last week that stranded thousands of passengers across the Caribbean Sea.
On Monday (June 12) WINN FM spoke to President of the Leeward Island Airline Pilots Association Captain Carl Burke.
“There was an agreement reached where the pilots will start receiving the wage package or the new ATR salary from July 19th 2017, and the retroactive payments there will be three transits paid from August, so I guess August, September, October, and then there’s a gap and then there’s another schedule which will commence I think December for six payments, this was an agreement that was reached, it was formalized by way of a consent order which was filed in the industrial court on Saturday, our last Saturday which would have been the tenth of June 2017. This has basically brought a close to the negotiations with LIAT as it pertains to wage packages with the pilots.”
WINN FM said, “The troubled regional air service and its pilots have had a series of disputes over the years linked to pay and work conditions. So will this agreement work?”
“Well it should because as I said it is now a legal obligation on the part of the company, the mere fact that it is filed in the industrial court, any breach of the agreement, any party will be charged with contempt of court, we are hoping that everything stays on schedule, that we can have this matter behind us and we can move forward.”
Passengers can recount quite a few LIAT stories about delays and late luggage but LIAT’s safety record has been outstanding. Still many people still ask if the day is near when LIAT will offer less drama.
President of LIALPA Captain Carl Burke said, “Well first of all, with the most recent situation which took place last week, I want to apologize to any persons that were inconvenienced and I want to give them all reassurance that the pilots normally, usually exhaust all means of negotiations with LIAT, in this case we did bring in an attorney to assist us with these negotiations, there was a deal that was brokered in the Attorney General Labour Minister’s office on the 24th of May and we thought that would have put the matter of negotiations to bed, and unfortunately the company did not follow through, or wrote us on the second of June indicating that they could not meet to some of the terms and conditions which were agreed to, but in general before any action is considered we always try to exhaust all means of negotiations that are arriving at a… success, we just don’t take action like that and in this case the pilots had no alternative than to stop flying the ATR 72, I think that they could be viewed as being reasonable that they were negotiating a rate of pay for an aircraft that is not covered under your contract for four years, I think four years is a long time.”