Ghana's troubled flag carrier asks 140 workers "to stay at home"

Accra- Ghana (PANA) -- Ghana's troubled national carrier, Ghana International Airlines Limited (GIAL), on Wednesday asked 140 workers "to stay at home pending discussions on their fate by their union workers" in one of the clearest signs yet that the airline is on the verge of dissolution.
A statement signed by Albert Botchway, Board Chairman, said the decision followed a review of the operations of the company and its financial standing.
The company has for months been struggling to overcome its financial and operational problems that have grounded its flights.
"A small number of staff necessary to keep the company running would be maintained, especially as it seeks the assistance of government to repatriate and also refund payments to almost 9,000 GIAL ticket holders," it said.
GIAL has since its inception been unable to sustain its operations and has grappled with numerous operational challenges.
"The decision of the Board is to avoid the present situation where workers are facing numerous challenges including delay in salary payments," the statement said.
According to the Board, GIAL currently does not need the 160 personnel on its payroll because the company is not fully operational and cannot pay the staff.
It said it was working out all the necessary processes including notifying the Chief Labour Officer and engaging with the union on the welfare of the staff.
However, a minority shareholder of the company, Sammy Crabbe, has accused the government of deliberately running down the airline.
He has described the action taken by the current board as illegal, saying he and some former board members have sued the government for US$15 million at The Hague for some unpopular decisions it has taken for the company.
The company has been collapsing for some time as government decided not to fund its operations.
The airline has had to suffer a series of seizures of its aircraft from their owners and fuel providers to whom huge amounts of money were owned.
The airline has not paid the salaries of its staff for about four months as a result of the support freeze and the workers have criticised the Government for refusing to allow interested investors to assist the airline.
The airline was set up in 2004 as a partnership between the Government of Ghana and a group of private international investors following the collapse of the state-owned Ghana Airways.
Ghana International Airlines commenced operations on 29 October 2005 with daily flights between Accra and London Gatwick Airport.
It also flew to Johannesburg, South Africa and Duesseldorf, Germany.
It is owned by the Ghanaian government (70%) and US consortium (GIA-USA) (30%).
The dissolution of Ghana Airways by the previous government was heavily criticised by the public, but the process went ahead.
Five people, including four former ministers in the previous government are now facing 22 counts of causing financial loss to the State at the Accra Fast Track High Court for their role in the GIAL saga.
Others charges they are facing are defrauding by false pretences, conspiracy to deceive public officers, deceit of public officer, misappropriation of public funds, opening an offshore account without authorisation from Bank of Ghana, conspiracy to steal and stealing.
They have pleaded not guilty and the court has granted them self-recognizance bail.

28 july 2010 21:07:00

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