Retrenched GIA Workers Sue Distressed Airline
The Board Chairman of distressed Ghana International Airline has expressed surprise at the decision by some retrenched staff of the Airline to take the company to court over their severance and redundancy payments. The Industrial & Commercial Workers Union filed a suit against the Airline on behalf of the GIA workers on October 29. It comes after the Board intervened on behalf of the workers and secured funds to pay their four months’ salary arrears and as well as a month’s salary in lieu of notice. Reacting to the writ filed at an Accra High Court, GIA Board Chairman Albert Botchway told Citi News the workers, through the union, are among others praying the court to stop the disposal of the Airline’s assets and direct the Company to make redundancy payments. This he said is bizarre because the workers are aware that the company is in dire straights “They all know that GIA did not have any assets. If they had anything at all, it would be something insignificant which could not even pay their salaries. When we came in, we realized that they could not operate efficiently and they were just causing losses monthly. We did everything to stop the loss and had to ask them to go home which they did. And that was on the agreement that we were going to be given them four months’ salary and one month salary in lieu of notice which was done. The next step was to invite them with the ICU so that we negotiate what next and surprisingly, they have gone to Court. So I don’t understand what the motive is. May be they are just trying their luck hoping that they will get some more money. But I think they should thank the good God who intervened and pleaded with Government who gave them some money not because they legally deserved it,” he said. Mr. Botchway told Citi News the demands being made by the retrenched staff are outrageous. “Before these monies were paid, we had a meeting with the ICU and asked them to bring proposals of their expectations. But we saw that some of the proposals didn’t make sense at all. So what we deemed fit was what we proposed to Government and they were paid on humanitarian grounds”. According to Mr. Albert Botchway, they had promised to continue negotiations with the ICU, but the “Staff decided to go to Court and not even the Labour Commission. But Mr. Solomon Kotei, Deputy General Secretary of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union, in defense of the ex-workers’ decision to sue the Airline, told Citi News that although the Union appreciates the constraints of GIAL, its management failed to respect them by not responding to their letters for negotiations on the redundancy package. He said the Airline’s management only found it prudent to explain that they were bankrupt after the ICU had served them the writ of summons. He described as unfortunate assertions by the GIA Board Chairman that the demands of the retrenched staff were outrageous and unreasonable. “Once they have been served the writ, we will leave it for the Court to decide” he said.