African Sun Hotel folds up but workers insist on severance package

BY: Maclean Kwofi
The African Sun Hotel located at the Airport City in Accra

About 60 workers of the African Sun Hotel located at the Airport City in Accra are up in arms with former management of the hotel, demanding what they described as their un-paid severance package.

The workers have accused the management of hiding behind the sale of the hotel to a new owner to deny pay them their due.

According to the workers, all attempt to get the management to settle its indebtedness had proved futile as management insisted  the hotel had new owners.

This is brewing anger and dissatisfaction among the workers who felt cheated by the original owners of the hotel, deciding to sell off the company without paying what they owe their workers.

The local union Chairman of the hotel, Mr Jairus Abormegah, who confirmed this to the Graphic Business in Accra, indicated that the workers were informed through an emergency meeting held on the third week of August that African Sun was folding up operations out of Ghana at the end of the month.

He said the workers were made to believe that the original owner of the building, Trassaco Ghana Limited, was taking over the day to day running of the hotel since management of the Africa Sun Hotel rented the building from Trassaco.

“Hence, Trassaco Ghana, which is the owner, will continue to run the facility and staff were assured they were not going to suffer in anyway because African Sun will see to it that employees were well taken care of and handed over to the new management before they leave,” he said.

HR to negotiate severance

Mr Abormegah said workers when informed, an arrangement was made for the African Sun Group Human Resource (HR) Director in Zimbabwe, Mr Elijah Nyakurerwa, to be flown to Ghana and negotiate the severance pay for the staff.

Explaining further, he said during the meeting, the HR director from Zimbabwe told the workers in plain language that he was not going to give the staff anything and that he would also leave Ghana and neither the police nor the government of Ghana can do anything.

According to the chairman, the HR said they can deliberately file for bankruptcy and can leave Ghana without anyone questioning them.

“The HR director also told us that if we dare bring a lawyer to the meeting, they will also bring a much knowledgeable lawyer than our own and they will drag the case for over five years till we give up,” he said.

Aggrieved employees

Some aggrieved employees who narrated their ordeal to the paper said they have not been paid their overtime since 2013 but were forced to work on holidays and weekends under threat.

“Majority of us have not been allowed to embark on our annual leave over a 23 months period, but remuneration for those outstanding leave days has been denied us,” they added. 

“Our probation salaries which management told us would be increased when we become permanent staff were never increased. Meanwhile, one person in the hotel is forced do the work of three people”, he said.

No comment

The former General Manager of the hotel, Madam Matema Amanda declined comment on the issue when the paper contacted her.

She, however, instructed the reporter to direct his questions to the headquarters of the hotel in Zimbabwe.

African Sun is an international company with branches all over Africa and headquartered in Zimbabwe.

ICU intervention

The General Secretary of Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU), Mr Solomon Kotei, when contacted by the paper, expressed dissatisfaction about the issue and gave the assurance that the union will do everything within the law to get the matter resolved amicably.

He noted that the management of the African Sun Amber Hotel had heeded to a letter sent to them by the ICU scheduling a meeting to discuss the redundancy package of the workers.

The general secretary added that in order to ensure that  the rest of the management of the hotel stay in the country to determine the final outcome of the issue, their passport had been taken from them by the police.

EOCO interdict

Information reaching the paper indicates that the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) has interdicted about three of the former management of the hotel which include the General Manager Madam Matema Amanda.

The EOCO is said to be investigating the books of the hotel for allegedly failing to honour its tax obligation to the state for over two years.