(St John's, Antigua) - For over three (3) years, the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) has been trying to overcome the stalling and delaying tactics of LIAT's management in releasing accounting information with regards to their Retirement Funds.
As recent as last December, the Company refused to respond to proposals from LIALPA's Attorney. These proposals are in agreement with the Court's ruling that the collective agreement between LIALPA and LIAT is binding and enforceable and emphasizes that the staff provident (retirement) fund contributions cannot be unilaterally closed and arrears are to be paid and contributions should continue. The proposals also called for an audit of all staff provident fund deductions not yet paid out to pilots, in order for any new pension scheme to be started.
LIALPA has received sound legal advice that the company's unauthorized deductions/contributions from pilots' salaries other than towards the contracted staff provident (retirement) fund, is a breach of Labour Laws (specifically Sections C34(1), C30 and 33) and constitutes a criminal offense.
LIALPA insists that "Transparency and Accountability" should be the order of the day at LIAT. However, despite many repeated calls from the pilots to account for their contributions to date into the Staff Provident Fund, the calls either continues to fall on deaf ears. Last month (September 29th 2016) this matter escalated at a meeting, when the Company yet again informed pilots that they will not be getting any information with regards to their retirement funds. The Company continued to quote the same reasons it has been citing for the past 36 months: "problems with accountants."
LIALPA deems this excuse "totally unacceptable." Therefore, we have come to the general public, so that they can become aware of the three (3) year old problem, the defiance and unreasonableness of LIAT's Management, and the decreasing patience of pilots. LIALPA's leadership continues to contain its pilots' angst and skepticism, but we can only do so much when the Company remains defiant in activities contrary to Court Decisions and contrary to Transparency and Accountability.
LIALPA has no other choice but to make a public appeal for LIAT to produce audited statements of pilots' contributions into their Retirement Fund. We demand nothing less than a company that conducts its business in a Transparent and Accountable manner. This would ensure the continued cooperation and enthusiasm the pilots have shown to the company in the face of this ongoing three (3) year ordeal.