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LIAT pilot strike grounds Gonsalves

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Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves was unable to leave the state on Wednesday to attend the historic 51st Meeting of the OECS Authority that was set to take place in St. Lucia yesterday.{{more}}

Reports are that the prime minister and the two other members of his delegation, Director of the Regional Integration and Diaspora Unit, Ambassador Ellsworth John, and Budget Director, Edmond Jackson, were unable to leave the state due to a sickout staged by LIAT’s pilots.

The delegation was scheduled to attend a meeting where a new agreement will be signed to establish the OECS Economic Union.

The Signing Ceremony is set to take place today from 6pm at the Sandals Grande Hotel in Gros Islet, St. Lucia.

On Wednesday, June 16, 2010, disgruntled pilots employed with LIAT reported sick for duty, forcing LIAT to ground all flights.

The action taken by the pilots comes a day after the Chairman of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA), Captain Michael Blackburn, met with acting Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Brian Challenger, to discuss contentious issues of pay.

The pilots, who last year agreed to have their dispute settled by binding arbitration, contend that new issues have arisen since then and are calling on management to immediately settle retroactive holiday and vacation pay which they claim are owed to them.

But management maintains that it has honoured and continues to honour its commitment to the pilots.

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