The Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation views with deep concern, strike action taken by the Aviation Services of Grenada (ASG) staff of the Grenada Airports Authority (GAA) at this critical juncture, as we attempt to resuscitate an industry destroyed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Grenada closed its borders to flights on 23 March, and reopened to Caribbean flights on 1 July, then accepted some International flights beginning on 1 August, such as Air Canada, with its scheduled flights, and Jet Blue which brought in Grenadian nationals via a chartered service.
As of 1 October, Grenada’s borders reopened to the international community, and already flights have begun in earnest. American Airlines, JetBlue, Air Canada, Virgin Atlantic, and British Airways have either already started service to Grenada, or are currently advertising schedules to begin later this month. The prospects are indeed bright for a cautious, but necessary recovery of the tourism and travel industry.
During the closure of the borders, sporadic repatriation flights and the occasional cargo flights came in via the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA). The staff of ASG, like most other sectors, were recipients of government’s stimulus package for the months April to June. Other arrangements for remuneration were made subsequently, based on the workload and the income generated.
The Ministry is concerned that airport staff have all been negatively impacted by Covid-19, as have other employees nationwide, especially in tourism-related fields. We are also distressed that many Grenadian workers have been left jobless, including those in the tourism sector, which was among the first and hardest hit by this COVID-19 pandemic. The GAA and ASG have spent time and resources preparing to protect the health of their workers and visitors alike.
The sector has made great progress in its preparations to receive visitors to our shores. We continue to work assiduously in our bid to capture part of the market in the Winter season, which will help to generate much-needed revenue to restore livelihoods to our people, especially in the hospitality and travel sectors.
The Ministry is therefore disturbed that in the midst of the progress made to date, in mounting a well-managed fight to protect our borders and restore one of our major industries to some semblance of its former glory, the staff at ASG has taken the premature decision to strike.
This is not only another setback for the tourism industry, but also a direct blow to the farmers who are unable to get their produce out to world markets, and other major operators of small businesses whose livelihoods are also affected.
We urge that good sense prevails and that the workers of ASG and their union representatives allow for due process in negotiations so that an amicable and satisfactory solution can be reached, in the shortest possible time and with minimal impact, on a country and sector that are already struggling.
The ministry reminds that the fight against Covid-19 is one that affects us all, and one that we must confront together. We ask everyone to spare a thought for our neighbour — especially those who have lost their incomes totally, and those who are still waiting for employment.
We are indeed all in this together.