LIAT Staff Expresses Lack of Confidence in Executive Management

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LIAT Staff Expresses Lack of Confidence in Executive Management

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Mar 22, 2019

https://barbadosunderground.net/2019/03 ... anagement/

LIAT Staff Expresses Lack of Confidence in Executive Management
March 21, 2019

Just over, two weeks ago LIAT came to its staff seeking a 10% wage reduction to bridge a gap in funding left by Barbados not meeting its funding obligation to the restructuring program.

The unions and staff present laid out several cost cutting and revenue generating programs that the company could use to fill the gap. Many of these recommendations were not new and in fact had been laid out in a CDB report handed to the company since February 2018. To date despite being in a self declared state of emergency the company has implemented none of these measures.

The position of the staff expressed at that meeting and reiterated since is that they do not have any confidence in the present management to manage any recovery and any sacrifices made would be squandered by the same people that put the company in this position in the first place.

The staff collectively made their position known that if there was a replacement of the management team, they would be willing to entertain giving concessions.

This sentiment has been echoed not just by the staff but by the several governments who have indicated publicly and behind the scenes that they would be willing to contribute to the airline if the current management were replaced.

Thus far, the politicians of Antigua and St. Vincent specifically seem inclined to protect the political hacks that they put in place that cow tow to their every demand and that ran the airline into the ground instead of saving what is arguably the only tangible provider of regional connectivity.

Yesterday, after having consulted with its members the Pilots union sent the attached correspondence to the CEO and to the head of the LIAT shareholder governments the Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

The Caribbean Development Bank was, in its report of 2018, pellucidly clear as to the devastating effect that a LIAT shutdown would have not just on the tax income of the region and its airports but its wider economies. In the case of Barbados for example, airport user fees on LIAT tickets account for 15% of the airports TOTAL revenue and the situation is worse in many other islands.

Aside from the measurable economic impact, such a shut down would precipitate an unprecedented technical brain drain across the entire region. Pilots, highly trained engineers & mechanics will all scatter and likely not return.

Given that the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority and to some extend the Barbados Department of Civil Aviation has always been staffed traditionally by ex LIAT employees (be it pilot or engineer) and its ability to show it is performing compliance inspections and audits is almost entirely tied to its oversight of LIAT, even the future ability of the governments to regulate Aviation in the region is at stake. At a minimum, the OECS’s CAT1 status would be at risk going forward.

The fate of regional air travel is now in the hands of the shareholder governments and they have a choice to make. Should they choose to protect a failed management and demand that staff subsidize incompetence then this will undoubtedly trigger a shut down. Should that occur, they will be forever known as the ones that finally killed LIAT, marring their own legacies as LIAT’s tombstone will forever read;

Here lies LIAT
Facilitator of regional travel
Transporter of generations of West Indians
First on Island in time of natural disaster
Safety Record envied by all
Founded by one man with a vision
Killed by Mia, Ralph and Gaston


----------------------------------------------



On LIALPA letterhead...


Honorable Dr. Ralph Gonsalves 20th March, 2019
Prime Minister of St. Vincent & The Grenadines
Chairman of LIAT Shareholders
Office of the Prime Minister
Administrative Center
Bay Street
Kingstown
St. Vincent & The Grenadines

Dear Honorable Dr. Gonsalves,

The Leeward Islands Airline Pilots’ Association (LIALPA) after meeting with LIAT Shareholders in Barbados on Monday,
March 11, 2019, did indicate to the Shareholders that we would communicate the Association’s position reference the
Company’s request for all staff groups to agree to a voluntary time limited 10% reduction in wages.

It is important to highlight at this juncture that LIALPA is very concerned about the current financial health and viability
of the Company and as such remains committed to the economic survival of LIAT.

The Association has held meetings in both bases with its General Membership and has presented the Company’s
proposal/request for consideration. Unfortunately the pilots by majority vote have rejected the request for a wage
cut at this time.

The concerns expressed by the pilots are centered around the inability of the current Executive Management Team to
navigate through the challenges which lie ahead in order to move the Company forward.

The 2018 CDB report, to date, has been in hand more than one year. The current management team has not acted in
any material way on any of the cost saving proposals set out by the report. This sadly is not new, because historical
evidence will show that the current management team has a track record of this type of failure to act, stretching back
at least a decade.

Indeed, yet again at the meeting with shareholders held recently in Barbados, several cost saving measures were
recommended. In some cases these were measures previously advocated by the 2018 CDB report. Yet, despite being
allegedly in a crisis and on the edge of a financial cliff, management has not acted to materially cut cost in an
expeditious way.

It would appear that this management team has either reached the hard limits of its capability or they are simply
unwilling or reluctant to implement the vital and key measures to arrest or change the direction of the Company’s
downward spiral.

The Association having caucused and spent several hours deliberating the challenges facing the Company with its
Membership, specifically on the Company’s request for a 10% wage reduction. It was made pellucid that the
unanimous belief amongst the pilot body is that any wage reduction could be deemed as an investment in the
Company and such a significant investment made on behalf of the pilots will be wasted by the current management.

The pilots have indicated that they have no confidence in the management. As such, a definitive change in
Management officials and current operational policies would be a precursor to any discussion related to salary
concessions that the pilots might be willing to give.

We have recently updated the current Memorandum of Agreement between LIAT (1974) and LIALPA (MOA) and the
only issue which remains outstanding to date in order to complete this update, is simply for both parties to meet and
correct typographical errors. Subsequent to this process being completed the Company and the Association could sign
off on this agreement which would form the base document of all future negotiations between the parties.

The Company would then be in a position to highlight and indicate to the Association the key areas of the MOA where
it seeks some form of relief.

We trust that we have made our position pellucid and we would like to encourage you, to use your good office as
Chairman of the LIAT Shareholders, to insist that the LIAT management expedite the process laid out above to ensure
that the Association could be in a position to offer the Company some form of alternate relief rather that cutting pilots’
wages.

We remain open and available to the Shareholders to continue meaningful discussions related to immediate cost
saving measures which would be beneficial to the entire airline.

Yours faithfully,

CARL BURKE
President LIALPA

Cc: Dr. Jean Holder – Chairman, LIAT Board of Directors
Mrs. Julie Reifer-Jones – LIAT CEO
Ms. Ilean Ramsey – Director, Human Resources
Captain Arthur Senhouse – Director, Flight Operations
Mr. Justin Simon QC – Attorney-at-Law
Mr. David Massiah – Chairman SRCCTULS
LIALPA Membership

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