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27.03.2007 Business & Finance

Airways Catering Limited Dismisses Striking Workers

The management of the Airways Catering Limited (ACL) has dismissed all workers of the company who have been on strike since Wednesday, March 21, 2007.

It described the action of the workers as illegal because they did not notify management about it, which was at variance with the Labour Law.

“As management, we cannot allow our operations to be held to ransom for reasons that are far from reasonable,” a statement signed by the Director of Finance, Mr Samuel Tindanbil, on behalf of management, said.

It said all workers who were on leave or suspension or for some reason were not expected to be at post would not be affected by the dismissal.

The statement asked dismissed workers who wished to be re-engaged by the company to reapply for consideration.

Last Wednesday, workers of the ACL started a strike to protest against the arrest of some leaders of the local union by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), which they alleged was masterminded by the management.

The statement denied that allegation, saying that “for the sake of dispelling all doubt, management would like to state categorically that we are not responsible for the arrest of the affected union members”.

It said enquiries made by management revealed that the local union chapter of the General Transport, Petroleum and Chemical Workers Union (GTPCWU) had led a section of the workers to embark on the strike without any notice to management, contrary to what was required by the Labour Law.

Giving details of the issue, the statement said about a month ago, the attention of management was drawn to the unauthorised withdrawal of sums of money from the company's account with the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) to some accounts belonging to two other companies.

It said having been satisfied that the withdrawals did not originate from ACL, the ADB reported the case to the BNI for further investigation, based on which some members of staff were invited for interrogation.

The statement said on Thursday, March 15, 2007, the BNI notified management of the arrest of four workers, namely, Messrs Solomon Bababila, the local union chairman, Patrick Adjei Danquah, the trustee, Emmanuel Mensah and Daniel Addo, both members of the union.

“We must emphasise that we had absolutely no knowledge of what had happened until these gentlemen were put in the custody of the BNI. They have subsequently been remanded by a court of law and management has again no power to release them, even if we so desire,” it pointed out.

The statement said in order to establish good faith in what was happening, the management organised a workers' forum on Monday, March 19, 2007, to explain its innocence to the staff and, therefore, accused the mother union of being behind the strike for its own reason.

Meanwhile, the local union has petitioned the President against the “maltreatment” meted out to the workers by the management of the company.

The petition, which was dated March 15, 2007, alleged that for the past five years the workers had not had any salary increment and a review of their conditions of service because of the crisis that Ghana Airways went through, which significantly affected the company's operations.

It said at a meeting with the Joint Negotiating Committee held on July 20, 2006, management indicated that the ACL had been sold to a new owner without informing the union and the workers, which was not in line with the Labour Law, adding that every effort by the union to address the issue amicably had proved futile.

The workers, therefore, pleaded with the President to intervene on their behalf.