ANTIGUA DAILY OBSERVER – A five-year-old public spat over a pension fund between LIAT management and the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots’ Association (LIALPA) has reared its head again.
LIALPA has said the time is up for a promised audit and wants its pension funds handed over, while LIAT is accusing the body of stirring up trouble.
In a press release, LIAT’s management hit back at a LIALPA and categorically denied any wrongdoing. The company accused LIALPA of inappropriately raising the issue while it’s facing the courts.
LIALPA President Carl Burke, however, said LIAT’s release was a “red herring across the trail”.
“Our gripe with LIAT right now is an audit which they have been doing for three years now. Three months ago, the Acting CEO Julie Reifer-Jones promised we would get the audit by the end of September….In today’s press release she is now saying the audit will not be completed until the end of the year,” Burke said.
Burke said Reifer-Jones has accused him of threatening strike action, but he said he has not done so to date.
“It was agreed that the audit would be completed and that the funds would be handed over to the pilots…and we would have trustees in place to take control of those monies. This is where the problem lies,” Burke said.
“Come the 15th October, I want to make this absolutely clear to Ms Julie Reifer Jones…if LIALPA is not given the audit of this account, I am going to go back to my membership. I will deliver that message to them and they will direct me as such,” Burke said.
In a statement, LIAT said the Pension Plan is currently the subject of four court actions and LIAT respects that the issue is sub judice, meaning that it should not be ventilated in the public domain. The management of the Antigua based airline also said it adheres to the process for the resolution of grievances set out in the collective agreement, which does not include the airing of such grievances in the public, but that it cannot remain silent where issues may be misrepresented to the public and as such it has felt it necessary to issue this brief statement.