Court rules on LIAT case

The near six year wait for justice has ended for former LIAT pilot Captain Michael Blackburn.

However, Blackburn, the former head of LIAT’s pilots’ union, did not get the level of financial compensation he was hoping for.

In its decision handed down this week, the Industrial Court of Antigua and Barbuda ruled that Blackburn significantly contributed to his own dismissal and that his compensation should be reduced by 65 per cent, a statement from LIAT Friday afternoon revealed.

Without going into details on the compensation package, the airline also reported that the court was of the view that Blackburn’s assertions and pronouncements about his then employer and its management during the radio programmes did not advance the harmonious and symbiotic relationship between the pilots’ union and LIAT.

“As the then chairman of the union, the employee’s conduct was contrary to good industrial relations principles and practices,” the LIAT statement said, pointing out that the court in its judgment had provided guidance on the employment relationship and had confirmed that there were certain types of misconduct which were considered serious enough to warrant summary dismissal.

“The court also stated that there is an implied term of mutual trust and confidence which imposes a reciprocal duty on both employer and employee not to engage in conduct calculated or likely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of trust and confidence between them.

“The judgment noted further that there is an implied obligation on each employee to serve his employer loyally and not to act contrary to the employer’s interest,” the Antigua-based carrier said.

When contacted Friday evening, Blackburn’s attorney Ruggles Ferguson was about to board a plane and promised to comment at a later date on the ruling, while Blackburn could not be reached for comment.

Just last week the former LIAT pilot had complained to Barbados TODAY about the long wait for justice after his attorneys applied on May 17 this year for judicial review, claiming that the industrial court had not only failed to render judgments but also to inform him and his attorneys of “a reasonable timeframe” on or within which judgments will be rendered with respect to his November 24, 2014 trial and the January 14, 2015 counter-application filed by LIAT.

His initial suit was filed back on June 18, 2013, charging that his dismissal on December 5, 2011 after serving the company for over 33 years as a pilot was unfair.

Blackburn, who worked briefly for Caribbean Airlines after he was forced out of LIAT has been out of a job for the past four years and in a letter to the Registrar of the industrial court, dated March 14 this year, members of his legal team had also said their client was “anxious to have the matter completed as his financial and other circumstances had become quite dire”. 

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