Industrial Action Continues in Grenada


Above: a LIAT plane

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The ongoing labour dispute between air carrier LIAT and the Technical and Allied Workers’ Union in Grenada is continuing.

The action, which has led to disrupted air service in Grenada and the Caribbean, stems from a dispute over extended working hours over a period of several years.

LIAT and the TAWU met in Antigua last Friday, a meeting which TAWU President-General Senator Chester Humphrey called “cordial.”

Following that meeting, LIAT asked that the workers suspend the industrial action while the company formulates its position.

Humphrey said he had taken that proposal to the workers Monday night, one which they unanimously declined.

“The workers agreed to continue to wear their red union shirts as a mark of protest,” Humphrey told Caribbean Journal.

LIAT has reportedly asked for a week to make a fresh proposal to the union, one that is expected to come on Friday of this week.

The ruling means that the schedule of flights will be affected in Grenada and the wider region, he said.

Grenada Labour Minister Sylvester Quarless has said he hopes for an end to the impasse, given the disruption in travel.

Prime Minister Tillman Thomas held talks two weeks ago with Antigua PM Baldwin Spencer and St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves in an attempt to resolve the issue.

The action focuses on what the union said was an extension of hours beyond the collective bargaining agreement, work that should have constituted overtime, according to Humphrey.

In a statement last week, Grenada’s Opposition New National Party said it “empathized” with the traveling public, saying it was concerned that the government “has been unable to negotiate a settlement between LIAT and the Union over the past two years, and has simply resigned itself as a stakeholder partner in this ongoing dispute.”

The payments at issue extend several decades.

“The main dispute is the payment of extended hours of work,” Humphrey said. “LIAT wants the workers to work one more hour than they should in the collective agreement, and, as a rule, the only provision under which extended work can be done is under the provision of overtime.”

Humphrey said he was hopeful that the situation could be resolved, however.

“There is some light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “Hopefully LIAT will make a proposal that is acceptable to the employees — if the proposal that we expect to come Friday forms the basis for an agreement, then there will be an agreement. If not, the union will have to consider intensifying the industrial action.”

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