No plans to sever workers
- airport management By Oscar P. Clarke
Stabroek News
August 26, 2002

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There are no plans to sever workers from the newly constituted Cheddi Jagan Interna-tional Airport Corporation (CJIAC) if they fail to sign new terms of employment circulated recently.

However, those who opt not to sign or be part of the new entity will simply be reassigned to other areas in the government public service where their skills are needed.

This assurance was given last week by Chief Executive Officer of the CJIAC, Leon Romero in response to concerns arising from letters sent to employees on Friday last.

Employees of the CJIAC had expressed concern about the correspondence which they said sought to bind them for a new period of employment without payment of severance from their last.

According to the workers, their previous years of service while being recognised by the new entity did not automatically allow them to be retained in their previous capacities. This among other issues was spelt out in the letter, which management circulated giving them a week to respond or have the offer withdrawn.

However, the airport CEO stated that the new entity was not in anyway responsible for the payment of severance since the workers were not employed with it. "Persons opting not to sign the correspondence would be simply saying that they are not mindful of being employed with the CJIAC," Romero said.

According to Romero, the new structure is expected to see certain systems for the monitoring of employees' performance since the new management was not happy with that which existed.

"They are being required to serve a probationary period since the new entity needs to monitor their performance over a period," Romero said, while stressing that the entity was a new organisation, hence the new systems and job descriptions.

He further said that most employees would see their salaries increased by some 40%.

Those who had normally supplemented their income by working with the airport's Red Cap Service would have to cease such tasks as that section will soon be asked to pay a fee to operate at the airport. The airport authority is actively pursuing the idea of getting someone to lecture to the workers in order to allay their fears about the new system.

Meanwhile, contacted on the issue, General Secretary of the Clerical and Commer-cial Workers Union (CCWU), Grantley Culbard, whose union is the bargaining agent for the workers, said that the union is giving the issue serious consideration.

"The union is looking at the matter... and is expected to comment on the issue later in the week," Culbard remarked, noting that it was only brought to the union's attention on Saturday evening last during the opening of its conference at the Umana Yana.

The union has requested its Industrial Relations Officer, Ralph Cameron, to investigate the matter with a view to reaching a compromise.

Culbard said the union was aware that changes were in the making at the airport and to this effect a meeting was held with workers. He said that during attempts to have discussions with the corporation's management on the changeover, the management promised to keep the union informed. However, this has not been the case.

The letter received by the workers and dated August 12, signed by Senior Personnel Officer, Andre Kellman, said: "Consequent upon the re-organisation of the Civil Aviation Division, the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Corporation is prepared to offer you the position of ...., under the following terms and conditions..."

Among the terms and conditions set out was that the offer being effected from April 15, 2002, would require them to serve a six-month probationary period during which their performance would be evaluated to secure confirmation. It further said that notice for the termination of services during this period would not be required.

The letter further set out the basic monthly salary for each employee depending on the position and scale within which their job is classified. Leave passage allowance which is expected to be equivalent to one month's salary will be had after the completion of one year's service and they would be entitled to 14 days annual vacation after completion of a year's service.

The letter, which the employees are being asked to sign, also said that they would be entitled to 14 days paid sick leave per annum. However, sick leave in excess of two consecutive days will require the production of a medical certificate.

Once confirmed, a month's notice by both parties in the event of termination of services is required.

The new package, according to the correspondence, also informed staff of the provision of uniform allowance along with their eligibility to join the corporation's pension plan.

Stabroek News had spoken with some workers who said that under the new dispensation, tradesmen are being banded together under the single heading of maintenance assistants.

However, the CEO said that it was not simply banding them together rather the issue was that workers needed to be multi-skilled especially in the new scheme of things.

This concept, he said, is widely used in other parts of the world as a way of ensuring that workers' services are maximised.

The workers had also questioned likely consequences of not accepting the package.