General News of Friday, 3 October 2003

Source: Chronicle

Kickout Board, Management - Ghanair Workers Cry Out

The staff of beleaguered National Carrier, Ghana Airways have called for the dissolution of the Board of Directors and the management, accusing them of non - performance.

The workers cited non -transparent procedures in leasing of aircraft, which they said was crippling the company and threatening their survival.

Numbering about 400 and chanting war songs, they beseeched the corporate headquarters in Accra where the Chief Executive Mr. Philip Owusu met them.

The secretary of the Senior Staff Association, Mr. Daniel Kofi Omane in an interview with The Chronicle, accused the CEO and the board chairman, Mr. Djumor of not making public the forensic audit that was instituted into the company which they claimed implicated some management members who were still at post.

According to Mr. Omane those people were engaged in corrupt activities, which was contributing to the collapse of the national carrier.

He also alleged that some persons in the management received kickbacks from the leasing of aircraft, adding that this and other forms of mismanagement prompted their call for immediate implementation of the forensic report as one of the measures to streamline the operations of the airline.

"When we ask them, they say they have given it to an external auditor to examine it and would then be sent to the Attorney General before making it public."

He said if the government took steps to overhaul the management, it would go a long way to put the once vibrant airline back on its feet.

He said that because of mismanagement most of the trained staff had left and joined the foreign airlines.

Mr. Omane said staff expenses formed only five per cent of the total expenditure, which he noted, posed no danger to the company.

The Union Secretary told The Chronicle that taking into account the precarious situation of the airline they had no option than to resort to positive action if management failed to accede to their request. "Positive Action" he explained, meant demonstration or strike action.

The chairman of the local union, Mr. Ignatius Alexander Koufie also said the unfair treatment that the management was giving the rank and file was unacceptable.

He said there were some inconsistencies in the amount Ghana Airways paid for leasing, alleging that while the CEO quoted $3,650 per block hour the Finance Department quoted $4,100 and called for an explanation of the conflicting figures.

In order salvage the airline from collapse, Mr Koufie said that the staff were prepared to contribute 30% of their salary to defray part of its debt.

In reaction, the Chief Executive Mr. Owusu expressed surprise at the workers' demand, saying that they had not sent any petition on the demands they were making.

"No, no this is the first time it has been mentioned to me and now I will take appropriate action and investigate it thoroughly", he said.

He said he could not comment on the workers' demand immediately maintaining that he could be in a better position to do that after a meeting scheduled later today.

Mr. Owusu who assumed office last June, said the airline had three DC10 and two DC9 which had been grounded mainly due to financial straits and misunderstanding with Alitalia on how to restructure the payment of debt.

He expressed the hope that some kind of agreement would soon be reached.

The CEO acknowledged that the airline was facing numerous problems that threatened its collapse but reiterated that it was still potentially viable.

He said the management would soon submit a proposal to the President for the provision of short-term relief in the form of capital and financial assistance to enable it meet its financial obligations as part of effort to make the national carrier vibrant.