GABATCO Supports LIAT Pilots

Guild of Antigua & Barbuda Air Traffic Controllers
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GABATCO Supports LIAT Pilots

Unread post by bimjim » Thu Dec 08, 2011 ... ilots.html

GABATCO Supports LIAT Pilots
Thursday, 08 December 2011

Antigua St John's

The Guild of Antigua & Barbuda Air Traffic Control Officers (GABATCO) is the latest body to throw its support behind LIAT pilots who have staged two days of industrial action after the sacking of senior pilot Captain Michael Blackburn.

GABATCO’s comments come as a slap in the face of recent allegations that the body had a run-in with the senior pilot over an alleged illegal landing. The allegations are that the pilot disobeyed the directions of an air traffic controller and almost collided with another parked plane as a result. These allegations were aired on Tuesday on an Observer Radio talk show.

In a statement today, GABATCO said the captain has been the subject of unfair dismissal.

"Based on information received by GABATCO on the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of Captain Michael Blackburne from LIAT(1974) LTD, it suggests that Captain Blackburn has been the victim of an unfair dismissal,” GABATCO said.

The group’s president, Bernard Attwood, said in light of the unfair dismissal, GABATCO would stand with the relevant unions and other bodies, in solidarity with Captain Michael Blackburn and LIALPA.

He too joined in requesting “that the management of LIAT (1974) LTD reinstate Captain Michael Blackburn forthwith with all privileges and benefits".

In its first comprehensive statement on the matter on Wednesday, LIAT’s Corporate Communications Manager Desmond Brown said Blackburn was fired after long consideration.

“This action by the company, taken after long and careful consideration, reflects the advice received from various legal sources that Captain Blackburn’s behaviour, and in particular his recent statements on the radio, had effectively destroyed the requirement for professional respect expected between an employer and its employees," Brown said. "In this case, summary dismissal, as contemplated under the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code, was recommended as the appropriate course of action."

He noted that the industrial action, which went on for two days, had effectively shut down the company’s flight operations and stranded thousands of passengers throughout the region.

Only one plane was able to take to the skies during the past two days, from Antigua and Trinidad respectively.

Brown said Blackburn was summarily dismissed because the company “felt that Captain Blackburn’s statements with regard to the safety standards of the airline and the capability of its management were a deliberate attempt to bring the company into public disrepute.”

He said these statements had received widespread publicity throughout the region and the world, and painted “an unfair and distorted picture of LIAT’s operations” and brought the safety and reliability of the airline into question.

Desmond Brown said Blackburn’s actions could only hurt the airline.

LIAT went on to label the pilots who took industrial action as “misguided” and “selfish”.

“We are all aware of the economic crisis which the world faces. LIAT’s own situation is particularly grave given the intense competition that it now faces and the overall economic situation in the region," he said. "All around us, companies in the region and throughout the world are undergoing staff reduction and other austerity measures forced upon them by the current economic downturn. During this time, actions which needlessly alienate our customers and rack up huge costs, cannot be condoned."

The airline has urged LIALPA to seek appropriate remedies for its grievance under the established procedures of the Labour Code and other legislation as sick-outs and other forms of industrial action would not achieve the desired ends and would only cost the company millions of dollars “which it cannot afford at this, or any other, time".

“The company wishes to place on record that the recent action in relation to Captain Blackburn does not represent any attempt by the company to interfere with the collective bargaining process. The company will continue to attempt to engage with its 10 union representative bodies in a manner which allows for respectful dialogue and exchange aimed at promoting the advancement of the company and its employees,” LIAT said.

Meanwhile, the Antigua Barbuda Trade Union Congress has also stated its position on Blackburn's termination.

It said, "The action of LIAT (1974) limited to dismiss an employee on the grounds of authorized discussions in the capacity of a Union leader is absurd and cannot be acceptable to the Trade Movement generally.

This move, which also contravenes the procedures laid down in Antigua &Barbuda Labour Code, is most disturbing to us as it clearly violates decent and proper industrial relations practice. All employees without prejudice ought to be afforded due process as natural justice."

The Congress expressed its full and unequivocal support to its affiliate, the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) in having this matter addressed expeditiously.

It urged management to immediately withdraw the dismissal letter issued to Captain Blackburn and reinstate him with all privileges.

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Re: GABATCO Supports LIAT Pilots

Unread post by islandflyer » Fri Dec 09, 2011

The swords are drawn...

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