St John’s, Antigua, March 22nd, 2013 -- The Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) is pleased with a Labour Department Conciliation Report stating that former Chairman Captain Michael Blackburn was unfairly dismissed from LIAT.
The 11th March 2013 report states that LIAT did not follow its collective agreement with the Pilots Union and did not apply the rules that should be adhered to when dismissing a pilot for cause. Assistant Labour Commissioner Pascall Kentish quoted from the precedent of a court case (Kiston Browne v Jumby Bay Resort), where the Judge made it clear that once a disciplinary procedure is contained in a collective agreement, the provision must be followed by the employer when disciplining employees.
Kentish further noted in the report that he was of the view that with LIAT failing to follow the disciplinary provision of the collective agreement, then the dismissal of Captain Blackburn must be unfair.
LIALPA is happy the Assistant Labour Commissioner recommended that the Company must duly compensate the Captain for unfairly dismissing him. We are very satisfied that every effort was made to compromise with the Company, and not necessarily decide who is right or wrong, but rather to bring the situation in line with the grievance procedure of the collective agreement. This agreement was completely bypassed by LIAT.
Captain Blackburn has always maintained that his actions did not warrant dismissal, the Company failed to follow provisions of the collective agreement with LIALPA, and his actions were not committed on the job but rather were conducted as Head of the Pilots union and were pursuant to trade union activities. Since his dismissal, LIAT has withheld the former employee’s earned wages and other benefits that are contrary to the Labour Code.
LIALPA continues to pledge its support to Captain Blackburn in getting what is legally due to him. We hope that LIAT will acknowledge its procedural errors in handling this matter and will quickly recognize the wisdom in bringing the issue to a speedy resolution.
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