Operations resume at airports after workers strike disrupts travels

BY: Graphic Reporters

Government yesterday February 26, 2021 intervened to avert a serious disruption to air travel and operations at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with striking workers of the airport.

A strike action by the unionised staff of the Ghana Airport Company disrupted travel plans of many passengers who had early morning domestic and international flights to catch.

Travellers with early flights was greeted with a deserted airport as there were no one to attend to them while airline staff who were also present did not know what to tell their passengers.

However, a timely intervention from the Chief of Staff, Mrs Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, who summoned the leadership of the workers union to an emergency meeting, saved the situation from getting worse.

The meeting, attended by the leadership of the union, and which had the Ministers-designate for National Security and Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Albert K. Dapaah and Ignatius Baffour Awuah, respectively, resulted in the strike being called off immediately for operations to resume.

It was agreed at the meeting that government be given two weeks to go through the demands of the agitated workers and act on them.

Situation

The workers, who last Thursday served notice of their action through their leaders, carried out the strike action, leaving scores of travellers stranded as there was no service to enable them to go through the process to embark on their trips, either on the domestic or the early morning international flights.

The strike was to agitate for the removal of the Managing Director of the company, Mr Yaw Kwakwa, for mismanaging the company and causing its fortunes to dwindle.

Justice Agbenorsi reports from the KIA that in the morning, there were scores of travellers at Terminals Two and Three for domestic and international flights as there were no staff to take them through the process for embarkation.

While some had gathered to discuss the issue, others were agitated over being held in a state of uncertainty without any word from either management or staff of the airlines.

Some travellers, particularly, those travelling on the domestic flights, decided to use alternative means to travel, most opting to go by bus.

However, later in the afternoon, the tension eased as travellers who were patient to wait went through the process for embarkation.

The Daily Graphic observed that the departure halls were busy as travellers were being checked in.

Also, queues had built up outside as passengers lined up to be screened.

Neither the staff who had resumed work nor the airline staff would talk to the Daily Graphic.

A passenger, Yaw Ankomah, who was travelling to Tamale, said he was relieved that operations had resumed.

“The event in the morning has disrupted the schedule of many people already. It’s a relief that service has resumed. If it had been allowed to go on, it would have caused a terrible havoc to people’s travel plans,” he said.

Crunch meeting

The Chairman of the Divisional Union of the Public Workers Services Union, Mr Issaka Bamaba, told the Daily Graphic’s Donald Ato Dapatem that the leadership of the workers union was invited to a crunch meeting by Mrs Akosua Frema Osei-
Opare, Mr Kan Dapaah and Mr Baffuor Awuah where they agreed on an MoU.

He said it was agreed that the government side be given two weeks to go through their demands and “act on them,” adding that the union had also agreed to suspend the industrial action and would wait for government’s response.

Travellers in Kumasi

From Kumasi, Daniel Kenu reports that domestic travellers had to look for alternative ways of getting to their destination following the strike action by workers of the Airport Company Limited.

Usually very busy on Fridays going into the weekend, by 10 a.m yesterday, the airport had been deserted as most of the travellers scheduled to travel in the morning said they were heading towards Asafo VIP station to catch a bus.

"This country is not serious. You cancel a flight without a word to passengers, is it fair? Mr Yaw Adumako, a businessman from Adum, who said he had a scheduled meeting with his partners in Accra in the morning, told the Daily Graphic.

Flight lands in Tamale

The first flight for the day arrived at 2p.m. in Tamale, and operations resumed around 12 noon at the time Samuel Duodu arrived to assess the situation.

Staff at the airport informed the Daily Graphic that the strike had been called off.

Workers’ action

This latest action by the workers comes after the union issued a statement on Thursday directing all general staff to withdraw their services at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) from 06:00hrs Friday, February 26, 2021, until otherwise communicated by the union.

The workers said, “the action has become necessary following the board’s attempt to shelve the report of an investigative committee comprising the Ministry of Aviation, the Board, Senior Management, and the Public Services Workers Union which confirms the allegations of mismanagement and abuse of office levelled against the Managing Director, Mr Yaw Kwakwa”.

The affected services included screening of pre-board passengers and access control, fire/safety cover for all aircraft, water supply and sewage treatment, as well as public announcement and flight display.