Ghana Airport Company Workers’ Front Divided Over MD's Performance 

Managing Director of GACL, Yaw Kwakwa Managing Director of GACL, Yaw Kwakwa

The Herald, has picked up reports that the Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL) is divided over the management style and performance of its Managing Director.

While, some want him removed from office and have since adorned the premises of the company with red colours demanding for the removal of Yaw Kwakwa, as Managing Director, there are many others who want him to stay and have rebutted accusations of mismanagement, nonperformance and lack of workers' welfare.

Those who want Mr Kwakwa to stay, disclosed how all workers of the GACL, enjoyed their full salaries, despite the closure of the Kotoka International Airport over the COVID-19 pandemic, although the company was not making money as a result of the virus.

It was revealed that, the closest company to GACL, was Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, but during some months of the COVID-19 closure, could only pay 50percent of staff salaries.

Those who want Mr Kwakwa to stay, strongly hold the view that paying full salaries throughout the closure of the airport, is not a mark of a man who is incompetent and disinterested in staff welfare. They also feel after months of the closure of the airport, the workers will rather rededicate themselves to enhance the revenue position of the GACL.

But in a petition to President Akufo-Addo through the chief of staff, sighted by Starr News, the workers argue "The Managing Director since assumption of office 2 years ago, has demonstrated gross incompetence, insensitivity and lack of understanding of the critical Aviation Industry and therefore his continuous stay in office will further detail the progress of the company."

The petition further accuses the MD of "Deliberate refusal to implement several interview reports lying on his desk for over two years, outsourcing key aspects of the company's operations at exorbitant cost, notwithstanding the availability of in-house capacity."

The services according to the workers, include carpentry works, plumbing works among others.

"Lack of interest in staff welfare issues resulting in several outstanding payments owed staff," among others.

The leadership of the Ghana Airport Company Limited Divisional Union of the Public Services Workers Union, PSWU in the petition, stated the only way out is the removal of Yaw Kwakwa.

"As leaders of the Divisional Workers Union representing the entire general staff body, we are convinced after engagement with our members at the Headquarters and the Regional Airports that the only way to get the company back on its tracks and to achieve the President's vision of making KIA an Aviation hub in the sub-region is the removal of the Managing Director." The petition signed by Union chairman Abdul-IssakaBamba and six other executives demanded.

The Union leaders copied National Security Minister, Labour Commission, Minister for Employment and Labour Relations and other stakeholders in their petition with a 14-day ultimatum.

According to the workers, upon the expiration of the ultimatum, other actions such as laying down of tools will kick in.

However, accusations that Mr Kwakwa, deliberately refused to implement several interview reports lying on his desk for over two years was shot down with the explanation that the three management positions namely; Fire Prevention and Investigation Manager, HR Operations Manager and Talent Management Manager, will distort the financial position of the company.

It was explained that staff were engaged on the problems with the new structure. However, The Herald learnt that the matter of the new structures has been put before the Board and the Union that the new GACL organogram into which the new positions are to be implemented have been found to be unacceptable by all staff engaged on the organogram.

Indeed, some of the staff engaged by the management on the matter also brought additional complaints about the company structure. This led to management bringing inPricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) for an HR Consultant that performed the task, to meet with management staff to discuss the subject matter for.

It was established by staff, most of whom sat on the steering committee of the HR Consultancy, that the structure that came out was not what they helped defined, but The Consultant also indicated that the final choice rested with GACL.

It was agreed at the meeting that something went wrong and needed to be resolved, however, hiring into the current "unacceptable company structure" will further compound the problems at the GACL which were inherited by the present management, which came into being last year.

The Herald learnt that at the heart of the three appointmentsbefore the board is financial situation of the GACL and this is being weighed against other critical appointments which borders on the day to day running of the company.

Interestingly, The Herald learnt that some management staff are aware of these issues but are behind the ongoing disturbance and attempts to push out Mr. Kwakwa.

On the outsourcing of key aspects of the company's operations at exorbitant cost, notwithstanding the availability of in-house capacity, it was explained that GACL does 1st and some 2nd level support services.

GACL's Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) Reps offer 3rd and highest level of support. However, taking over some of maintenance services completely, had been considered, and discovered to be impossible because the OEMs would not enter into 3rd level agreements with clients (users), a norm worldwide.

It was also explained that last year, when the new management took over, the T3 maintenance contracts were looked into and it was discovered that John Dekyem Attafuah had agreed to give it to MAPA at US$9.4million per year and had written to PPA.

However, the PPA, had not approved it and this led the Kwakwa management to get the same service at $6.3million a year with OEM local Reps; a strategy that would lead to better service and empower Ghanaians, this is said to be in the known of the Union, and yet has decided to ignore the fact just to throw accusation at the MD.

On Mr Kwakwa's lack of interest in staff welfare issues resulting in several outstanding payments, including clothing allowance, it was explained that plans are far advance to have it settled, especially so when the airport has been reopened.

It was revealed that GWCL staff, has a policy called the "13th month salary" which is not contractual. However, when the workers started agitating for their "13th month salary" stating their dependence on it,the MD and others quickly acted in their interest by appealing to the Board led by Mrs. Oboshie Sai Cofie, to have it paid as quickly as possible.

Interestingly, despite fighting for their interests, holding meetings with them regularly to discuss matters of mutual concern, including the TAV-Summa issue with assurances that everything had been went understood, some of the staff organize rather organized a demonstration a week later saying Mr Kwakwa was planning to sell the airport and that he should be fired.

They even cursed and cracked eggs on him.

On his divide and rule leadership style, and unwillingness to listen to staff leaders, it was disclosed that the NPP and some neutral supportersarerather unhappy about his good relations with everyone, especially with those they consider political enemies.

The Herald is informed that Mr Kwakwa was working too close with the board chairperson, Mrs. Sai Cofie.

It was revealed that there is constant engagement betweenthe union and management discussions about any subject matter that needed clarification, and the workers in support of Mr Kwakwa's stay therefore believe that the union leaders must get their acts together and help uplift the company, rather than targeting the MD.

Meanwhile, The Herald is informed that yesterday, two meetings were held. One was between the Board chair person and the workers union on the petition sent to President Akufo-Addo, while was between management, some staff and the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).

Several attempts to reach Mr Kwakwa proved futile, he was said to be in a meeting all day.

GACL is said to be pushing everything to make Terminal 3 financially stable. This will help to refinance the US$400m outstanding debt. An earlier move to do a 4yr Moratorium plus 11yr repayment period, could not go through, but Mr Kwakwa and his team are said to be at work trying other options.