New LIALPA chairman ready to forge ahead
Monday, October 1st, 2012.
Captain Carl Burke, newly elected chairman of the Leeward Island Airline Pilots’ Association (LIALPA). (Photo by Eustace Samuel/OBSERVER Media)
“I have to navigate some turbulent waters ahead, which I intend to do,” he said.
“I hope with the support of the membership and the executive we will be able to sit down with LIAT and move forward.”
Of being elected to his new post, Burke said, “It’s a good feeling but I have to remember that it’s a lot of responsibility.”
Burke, who replaces Arthur Senhouse as chairman, said he is aware of the pressures that LIAT faces.
“We are in one of the worst recessions of the century. Our passenger loads are declining. We always have to bear in mind that we have to ensure that the company survives so that we can all have jobs,” he said.
When he officially took up the position on September 27, Burke laid out a strategic plan to the membership. One of the issues, which he intends to tackle, is that of pilots’ pensions.
LIALPA and LIAT have been negotiating a pension plan since 2007 when the previous one was ended.
“We did take the matter to arbitration in 2009 and also we got an award which mandated LIAT to establish a new pension plan in consultation with the pilots,” he said. “The timeline given was one year. Unfortunately this pension plan never got off the ground.”
Burke also said that he would soon be writing to St Vincent & the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves to host an aviation summit with the purpose being to return the airline to viability. He said all stakeholders, including the OECS governments, the staff and the trade unions, should be present.
Burke said he understands that Ian Brunton, the new LIAT CEO appointed in July 2012, has joined the company during tough financial times.
The association president said it is very important for both the union and the company to move away from the friction that has been between them.