Forty-seven Saint Lucian workers who were forced out of their jobs without receiving their minimal benefits (two) after LIAT (1974) Ltd. went into liquidation in 2020, finally received them on December 16.
Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre with the support of his cabinet successfully interceded on the behalf of the displaced employees, resulting in a multimillion-dollar settlement agreement reached with the assistance of the Ministry of Labour and the National Workers Union (NWU).
The benefits were in the form of bond certificates. The bond certificates are cash redeemable and can also be used as collateral to secure loans; a total of XCD 4.4 million was disbursed to the workers.
“You can sell them, you can let them mature at the interest rate of three and a half percent, you can use them for security, and you can exchange them… so it’s an asset that you can trade,” Pierre said.
According to Josse Mesmim, former country manager for Saint Lucia (LIAT), “the NWU wrote to our former Prime Minister and we didn’t get any positive feedback from him… so thank you Mr. Prime Minister. It’s not only 47 people that will be benefiting from that, hundreds. We have families, relatives… a lot of people are depending on this severance.”
Meanwhile, former employees of Majestic Industries will also receive outstanding terminal benefits. The garment manufacturer abruptly ended its operations in Saint Lucia in 2004, however, in less than 18 months since assuming office last July, Pierre vowed to bring an end to the situation.
Speaking on the matter recently, Labour Minister Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte intimated that it was no easy feat.
“We had to go back into the archives to check the background information to ensure that every worker who is entitled to the benefits were included in the package. We were able to pilot and prepare this memo to cabinet and the Prime Minister and the cabinet colleagues in their good hearts and keeping to the promise and what Labour government stands for, had no objection in ensuring that we honour this obligation,” Albert-Poyotte said.
“I am very cognizant of the importance of representing workers and a government that cares for people and when we use the phrase putting you first that is exactly what the government is doing,” she said.