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LIAT Oilots Threaten Strike For Christmas Season

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After Chief Executive Officer of LIAT (1974) Ltd. Mark Darby shut down LIAT pilots’ claims to compensatory pay for working on weekends and holidays, informed sources allege that the disgruntled employees are considering striking during the airline’s peak travel period.

The Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) recently asserted that the airline was in breach of Antigua’s Labour Code by requiring pilots based on that island to work on public holidays at the normal rate of pay.

It was noted that the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Code provides under section C14. (1) that “Subject to subsection (2) no employee shall be obliged to work on a public holiday except in emergency situations”.

However, Darby issued a statement today (Dec. 10) reassuring the pilots that according to the Labour Code Chapter 27 of the Laws of Antigua and Barbuda, airline pilots were among categories of workers not entitled to premium pay for working on public holidays.

According to Darby’s release, “Pursuant to section C14 (2) the Minister, by Order dated 15th December, 1989, made the following exemption:

Exemption of Air Transport Industry: The provisions of section C 14 (1) of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code, shall not apply to airline pilots, stewardesses and the management staff employed in Antigua and Barbuda in the air transport industry.

Wages Payable: All airline pilots, stewardesses and the management staff employed in Antigua and Barbuda in the air transport

industry who are required to work on a public holiday shall be paid the normal rate of pay.”

Seemingly dissatisfied with the CEO’s claims, one LIAT pilot told that not only should they be paid ‘time and a half’ for public holidays, but the pilots deserved a significant increase in their salaries.

“Without us there can be no airlines and we think it’s only fair we be properly compensated. Sometimes we fly for up to 12 hours a day. We are away from our families for extended periods. I think a 40% raise in pay is in order,” the source informed.

SKNVibes was also told that if their demands were not satiated, pilots were planning a major strike during the Christmas season which would essentially shut down LIAT’s operations during their most profitable period.

Darby stated that it is a fact that all crew were given enhanced vacation – to a maximum of 42 days which was awarded to compensate for public holidays – whether the individual was required to work on a public holiday or not, and called on pilots to forego industrial action.

“The company takes its duties and obligations very seriously and always seeks to operate within the scope and letter of the law. I would like to reassure you that the company, at all times, seeks to deal fairly with all of its employees and to follow the law and adhere to the collective agreements. I have been alarmed that your association has sought to use the issue of Public Holiday pay to threaten to refuse to work on Public Holidays and hope that now you are in possession of the facts that you will resist any such calls for industrial action.”

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