KIA management to use SWAT to crush staff protest sparks new agitations

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Agitations by workers of the Ghana Airport Company against the Managing Director of the company Yaw Kwakwa has resurrected.

This comes on the back of an intercepted document detailing alleged plans by management to use the SWAT team of the Police to crash future staff agitation.

The move follows a decision by the workers to strike in demand for the removal of the MD in February this year.

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During the protest, union leaders locked out the MD from his office demanding the implementation of a report of an investigative committee set up by the board of the GACL which they said indicted the MD.

The intervention of Transport Minister Kwaku Ofori Asiamah and Labour and Employment Minister Ignatius Baffour Awuah and other government functionaries got the workers to suspend the strike pending a meeting at the Jubilee House with the Chief of Staff.

The strike was however called off after an assurance to implement recommendations of the investigative Committee report, according to the general secretary for the Public Services Workers Union Bernard Adjei.

In a document titled “Union Disturbance Contingency Plan” in possession of Starr News, top management laid out strategies to deploy in curtailing any future agitations from the staff including the use of force by a SWAT team. Management also asserted in the document majority of the staff of GACL are members of the opposition NDC.

“Unfortunately, staff and union activities at KIA have been profoundly politicized over the years. The latest union elections indicate approximately 80% of staff are NDC sympathizers. It is worth noting that there were serious Union agitations prior to the 2020 Election, and just before the Supreme Court Election Petition ruling on March 4, 2021.”

The document further stated the action from the union and the staff has the support of senior management members.

“To make matters worse, it has become absolutely clear that the overwhelming majority of senior management is supporting the Union members. Therefore, this Contingency Plan has been designed and would be implemented in this context.”

According to the document steps to be taken against any agitations from the staff include;

1. Liaise with National Security to assist with Plain-Clothed and SWAT team deployment

2. Liaise with Police Operations to assist in securing Airside Access Gates, Terminal Building Access points and Critical Operational Systems

3. Liaise with Ghana Fire Service for alternate Fire Cover

Reacting to the top management plan, Chairman for the Local Union of the Ghana Airport Company Abdul Isaka Bamba described the move as unfortunate but not surprising.

“It’s unfortunate and I’m not surprised. I’m not surprised because in our earlier action when we laid down our tools, we saw a similar thing happening. Crowd control police were brought in to come and arrest and handcuff our members including the union executives. In fact, we only laid down our tools, we were committing no crime. There was no rioting. We have police post at the airport here, they did not use them. They rather used the crowd control police. That’s why I’m not surprised that this can happen again.”

“They used SWAT team to arrest and harass us including myself, I was arrested. So this is where we find ourselves. Staff who decide to withdraw their services, committing no crime, causing no damage to any property, you brought SWAT team to come and harass them. This is the country we live in. But for us we know we have never committed any crime and we don’t have any intention of committing any crime. We are only doing what we’re supposed to do. We don’t go beyond our limit. Now, if at this point authorities want to use SWAT which they think is the best to use to harass innocent staff who are committing no crime, we leave it for Ghanaians to judge.”

On the allegations of partisanship being the driving force for the allegations, Mr. Bamba denied the assertion. According to him claim the union enjoys support from overwhelming number of senior management members even if true is testimony concerns of the workers are legitimate.

“I wonder how senior members who are supposed to support him(MD) do his work and if overwhelming number of them are supporting us against him, then how is he controlling airport or how can he control the airport? I still leave that one for Ghanaians to judge.”
Isaka Bamba expressed confidence and faith in the ability of the Chief of Staff Frema Opare to address their concerns in spite of the plan by management to assign their roles to other willing colleagues should they strike again.

“We still have some trust in the office of the president. That’s the Chief of Staff’s Office. We have respect for that office and we believe the Chief of Staff and her team know what they are supposed to do so we still have faith that the right thing will be done looking at the allegations levelled against the MD of course the Committee report is out there we all read it, we know the content so we still have faith in that office. So we look up to the office.”

According to him, the management plan to use every means to scuttle any labour agitations has created a very tense atmosphere at the Kotoka International Airport.

“Honestly I can tell you other staff too are privy to this information and I know they are not happy and they are more agitated and they are just waiting to hear from the Chief of Staff’s office to see what outcome will be brought to us then we take it up from there.”

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