Management of Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), in consultation with the Madam Oboshie Sai-Cofie’s led Board, has outlined a six-month roadmap aimed at addressing all statutory and welfare deductions of staff that have, in recent times, been the source of agitations against the company.
Management has resolved that beginning August 2021, all welfare and statutory deductions would be settled. The Welfare deductions include departmental welfare, Senior Staff, Trade Associations, Credit Associations among others. Payment of Tier 2 will commence in October 2021 over a period of six months.
Arrangements have also been concluded for the payment of SSNIT contributions from August 2021 over a period of twelve months. Further to that, PAYE payments will also begin in October 2021 for a period of twelve months.
The move is expected to bring to an end, the hostility between management and staff of the GACL.
The roadmap was arrived at following management’s meeting with the GACL Board, a decision which was subsequently communicated to workers and the Divisional Union of GACL who were present at the durbar held on Wednesday, August 11, 2021.
Commenting on the issue, Managing Director of GACL, Yaw Kwakwa, said “management of GACL will continue to deepen staff engagement at all levels on the financial status of the organization”.
He said the six-month roadmap that has been set for the payment of all outstanding statutory and welfare deductions will duly be followed and or complied with, believing that it will help restore staff confidence and improve the working relationship between staff and management.
“I take responsibility for all that is happening in the organization. The workers have every right to complain when they are going through hardship. What I don’t condone is to take the law into your hands and attack management members. We’ve worked together for some time now and I know how they feel when certain things are not going on well for them. But management is working very hard to address all their challenges. We are going to stick to our roadmap and I believe that at the end of the day, there will be all smiles and the bond that existed between management and staff will greatly be improved”, he noted.
He added “our number one challenge had to do with the refinancing of the over US$400million asset-backed corporate loan we took to finance our capital expenditure requirements under two separate components. But like I said, we will continue to engage our workers and resolve all outstanding issues”.
Engagements with PSWU
In view of the recent staff agitations against the management of the company over unpaid statutory and welfare deductions, management engaged the Public Services Workers Union (PSWU) acting for the GACL Divisional Union and gave an overview of the financial situation of the company stressing the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the accompanying result of a severe reduction in its capacity to fulfill financial obligations.
At the said engagement, management of GACL pointed out to the Union that it had proactively made a strategic move to refinance the terms of the loan the company took prior to the COVID-19 pandemic which had mitigated the financial effects.
Management indicated that prior to the refinancing, GACL had APSC revenue receipts of approximately US$21.6million per quarter and made loan payments of US$19.1 per quarter.
With these figures, management anticipated that with the refinancing, payment would dip to US$6.1million thus providing GACL with an extra cash flow of US$13million to support corporate operations.
However, this arrangement was truncated by the COVID-19 pandemic because APSC revenue dropped from US$21.6million to US$6.3million per quarter, a situation which eventually, halted any plans by management to support any likely salary increment because the airport operator now lacked the capacity to do so.
Back & Forth
After considering the financial position of the company, PSWU made the request for a 15% pay increment to restore the purchasing power of staff with the view that government should step in and provide support to GACL to enable the company honor its obligations to staff.
After back and forth engagement with the PSWU, management of the GACL reaffirmed the difficult financial situation of the company which was occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, and its commitment to do everything possible to ensure the company’s survival.
On Tuesday, August 3, 2021, the Divisional Workers Union of the GACL notified management to brief staff on the wage-opener negotiations with Management.
The meeting was expected to have been held at the forecourt of the Head Office building but were advised to revert to their usual meeting place.
However, the advice was ignored, with staff going ahead to convene at the forecourt of the Head Office building.
The Managing Director, Yaw Kwakwa, while in the process of walking to address the staff, was kicked from behind by a staff of the company, and in reaction to that, he grabbed the perpetrator to question him why he did that.
Reacting to the assault on him, Mr. Kwakwa said tempers were really high but was happy that it did not flare up, stressing that through continuous engagement, they will overcome the challenges confronting the company.