Former Antigua PM says “no” to scrapping LIAT
Former Prime Minister Lester Bird says replacing LIAT with a new entity will not solve the labour dispute.
ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Monday December 12, 2011- Former Prime Minister Lester Bird has rejected the suggestion by the Vincentian leader for LIAT to be scrapped and replaced with a new airline.
Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines and head of LIAT shareholder governments, made the recommendation last week following three days of industrial action by pilots.
However, Bird, the Political Leader of the main opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) said, “The solution to a labour dispute cannot be the creation of a new legal entity. Prime Minister Gonsalves’ proposal does not address the issue and further complicates the finding of a reasonable solution in quick time.”
The former Prime Minister insisted that any solution to the ongoing industrial dispute lies with the airline management.
He urged the government to also involve the ALP in discussions on the future of LIAT since his party assisted the Antigua-based airline several times while it was in office.
“The ALP calls on Mr. Spencer to include Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in any consultation and decision-making that pertains to LIAT. The ALP insists on consultations that will include all stakeholders, in search of a quick solution,” Bird said in a statement.
“LIAT must not and cannot be allowed to deteriorate through stubborn and unbending decisions that will continue to inflict serious damage on the carrier, and hurt the island-countries that are dependent upon LIAT.”
Labour Minister Dr Errol Cort is mediating in the dispute that was caused by last week Monday’s sacking of veteran pilot, Captain Michael Blackburn, Chairman of the pilot’s union.
The negotiations are expected to continue today.