Attendants back pilots

Leeward Islands Flight Attendants Association
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Attendants back pilots

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Apr 30, 2010 ... py-for-web

Attendants back pilots
Published on: 4/30/2010.

FIRST IT WAS THE LIAT pilots who were concerned about their personal safety if the regional airline opened a base in crime-plagued Trinidad and Tobago.

Now flight attendants employed by the airline have joined the fight too.

In fact, the president of the Leeward Islands Flight Attendants Association (LIFAA), Jasmin Edwards, has issued a warning to all members that should they engage in negotiations with the airline regarding accepting bids to Trinidad, they will be blacklisted.

"LIFAA would like to inform all members that under no circumstances any member is to bid for the Trinidad base," Edwards wrote the rank and file of the body last week. "The company (LIAT) is well aware that our contract and finalising of negotiations comes first. The salary structure, as it is now, does not cover any cabin crew for a decent standard of living while in Trinidad. Cabin crews would be paying all their salaries to rent," the president noted.

According to Edwards, some crew had a keen interest in the Trinidad base, but LIFAA wanted to ensure that everyone had a decent salary and a proper understanding of a new contract that was being negotiated before any discussions concerning the Trinidad base.

"Should LIFAA be aware of anyone conducting such business with the company (LIAT), they will be disciplined to the fullest extent of LIFAA, notwithstanding blacklisting while supercrewing," the LIFAA president warned her members.

LIAT's corporate communications specialist Desmond Brown, in a release to the media last week as well, responded to numerous concerns by chairman of Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA), Michael Blackburn, in a SUNDAY SUN article, noting that the airline had spent over US$1 million annually to overnight a minimum of 18 crew every night in hotels in Trinidad's capital, Port of Spain.

"The existing collective agreements between LIAT and the unions that represent the flight crew members stipulate the working conditions for all pilots and flight attendants, irrespective of where they are based," Brown said regarding the current impasse.

"These agreements specifically state the company can transfer its crew members to new bases," Brown added.

According to Brown, LIAT would continue to emphasise it remained committed to the safety, security and general welfare of all staff and expected to continue its discussions with the unions (LIFAA and LIALPA) in order to establish a base in Trinidad.

Blackburn has again expressed disgust with the decision to open a base in Trinidad, because of security fears. In response to Brown's recent LIAT reaction, the LIALPA chairman noted that although LIAT's reaction admits to increased security risks associated with a base in Trinidad, the airline did not specifically addressed the pilots' demand that housing must be in a secured gated community.

"The government of Trinidad and Tobago has clearly stated that crime is out of control. Travel warnings have been issued by international countries," Blackburn told the WEEKEND NATION. "Earlier this year, a former LIAT captain was shot to death trying to foil an attempt to kidnap his wife. It is unsafe for air crews to be operating while emotionally distressed about the safety of their families left behind," the chairman concluded.

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