The Executive Council, along with legal counsel, has reached a point where we are of the belief that we have exhausted all methods to persuade LIAT to abide by basic principles of industrial relations and collective bargaining.
The company, since January 2017, remains defiant and has used all reasons to evade paying the recently-agreed salary/ATR-72 weight pay package. The company has also refused to acknowledge and accept that the Association has objected and indeed rejected its proposal to implement a salary deferral programme.
Most of us could recall the 14 months of hardship endured when LIAT ran a salary deferral programme during the period 2014-15. The company has failed to recognize the simple logic that it is worsening its financial position by delaying salaries, simply because historical evidence has shown that in order to recover from a two-week deferral in salaries, the company would have to secure enough revenue to pay three payments to pilots in six weeks then be stable enough to sustain the 28-day payment schedule thereafter.
The Association is of the belief that the management of LIAT to this point has not formulated a sound recovery plan or a sustainable business going forward.
It is very important that we resist all attempts by LIAT to delay salary payments and also to ensure that the company honours and respects its agreements made with the Association. While the company drags this out, the retroactive payment is increasing month by month to a point where they may have to later approach us to ask for some relief or to write-off the outstanding monies owed completely.
Additionally, the Association’s legal counsel, Justin Simon QC, has advised the association that:
“The payment of wages/salaries is a contractual obligation in respect of work done for or services rendered to an employer. Section 32(1) of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code provides that: ‘Wages shall be paid on a regular periodic basis, and no period in respect of which wages earned by a workman are payable shall exceed one month’. A deferral of salaries without an employee’s consent constitutes a breach of an employee’s contract of employment, and an employee is entitled to cease working or withhold his services if he has not been paid as provided under his individual contract or Collective Agreement. Your refusal to work does not, in these circumstances, constitute industrial action.” (Justin Simon QC)
In the event that LIAT fails to pay pilot salaries by midnight of May 24, 2017, the Executive Council will be executing a mandate received from the floor by directing protest action by all permanent pilots or full members of LIALPA.
This action would take the form of a sit-in at various airports and possible picketing on Thursday, May 25, 2017. Please note that this protest action may run over a 3-4 day period. Please be prepared for this.
All pilots are to report to work as normal, DO sign in to work, do not sign off on any flight documents, do not board any LIAT aircraft and take flight. You are to remain out of view from the traveling public until further instructed by a LIALPA Executive Council Member.
The Association would arrange refreshments and would be seeking to provide you with a comfortable resting area. These designated rest areas would be indicated to you in a subsequent email.
Please note that these directives are not issued to pilots still on probation, who are not full members of LIALPA. Pilots on probation are to ignore these instructions and are encouraged to go to work as normal. Do not engage anyone in discussion of the action being taken by LIALPA.
The association’s legal counsel has strongly urged that you follow the guidelines set out in this notice once it is made effective.
On behalf of the entire Executive Council, I would like to thank each and every one of you for your support as we navigate through the obstacles placed in our path by LIAT.
Please monitor your emails for further instructions/information.
Yours in Solidarity,
Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association