AA to retrench Antigua workers
ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, October 19, 2011 - Government has been asked to intervene in plans by American Airlines to send home between 20 and 30 employees, as the US carrier moves to outsource its local operations by month end.
General Secretary of Antigua & Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) David Massiah said the matter was referred to the prime minister and the tourism minister Tuesday, hours after AA notified the union of its decision.
“It was more than a big disrespect to the union and the workers in particular because the workers were not aware, and all of a sudden you have people who have worked here 25 years and more with the company and to hear that they don’t have a job as of the 1st of November is more than traumatic in some ways,” he said.
The company, Massiah explained, has not yet indicated how many workers will be sent home.
Union representatives met with AA employees later in the day to notify them of the situation and decide on their next court of action.
Minister of Tourism John Maginley indicated that government has limited options.
“I don’t know what steps we can take at this time,” he stated.
“I understand that they have already outsourced a number of Caribbean destinations. Apparently, this is part of their cost-cutting exercise.”
The planned retrenchment comes as AA prepares to introduce on November 17, four weekly direct flights from John F Kennedy International Airport in New York to Antigua under a revenue guarantee arrangement with the government.
Minister Maginley said that deal has not been affected.
“Nothing will happen anytime in the near future,” he disclosed basing his argument on recent discussions with AA.
“These big corporations, when they file for bankruptcy, there’s a long procedure and we don’t expect it to affect the flights into Antigua,” the minister added.
AA has not made an official statement on the matter.