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LIAT Hits Back

by caribdirect
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Antigua-based LIAT has accused the unions representing its workers of trying to mislead the public by claiming that the company is wasting money and should undertake an independent audit.

The audit call was made by the National Workers Union of St Lucia.

The company’s Chief Executive Officer Brian Challenger has since rebutted that LIAT’s accounts were up to date and had recently been audited by some of the leading international accounting firms.

Challenger, in a release put out by the company, also indicated that LIAT’s finances and financial procedures were “subject to regular supervision and monitoring by senior financial managers from the company’s shareholder countries.”

He told The Daily OBSERVER, however, that there is always room for improvement in the process of companies trying to effectively manage their resources.

“I’m not going to deny that there are opportunities for greater efficiencies, as in any company, and I think management has a responsibility to promote those efficiencies,” Challenger said.

He added that LIAT was doing that while looking at where the company’s costs lie, and pointed out that personnel accounted for a significant amount of those costs.

Challenger is also rejecting claims that the company’s management structure was bloated, and that the process of job reductions unfairly targeted only low wage earners.

Captain Michael Blackburn, who chairs LIALPA – the Leeward Islands Airline Pilot’s Association, suggested recently that while the airline was contemplating shedding hundreds of workers and trying to negotiate this with the unions, the number of company managers had doubled in recent times.

However, Challenger has denied this, and said it was not fair to suggest that LIAT managers are immune from the proposed staff cuts.

According to Challenger, LIAT regrets having to go the route of sending home workers, but its financial difficulties and the market situation makes it imperative to act on this because the company needs to be competitive to remain viable.

“The fact of the matter is that the company’s decisions are being made based on our strategic assessment of where the company has to go if it is to survive in the present very difficult economic environment,” Challenger explained.

The unions have been demanding that they be allowed to meet with LIAT shareholders because they argue that meetings with management have not yielded results.

They are also asking for a comprehensive restructure plan to allow them to make informed decisions.

But the company’s CEO says while not opposed to that, presenting such a plan is difficult in the dynamic ever-changing airline industry business.

LIAT says it is still hoping for constructive dialogue with the unions which boycotted a meeting last Friday, arguing that it would have been a one-sided affair that would not have adequately addressed the concerns about the proposed staff layoffs.

(Source http://www.antiguaobserver.com/?p=67086)

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