BY SAHR DUMBAR MATURI:
Ex-workers of the Sierra National Airlines (SNA) on Wednesday 29th August 2012 held a Press Conference in Freetown at Charlotte Street, where their legal representative disclosed to pressmen that the ex-workers have instituted a legal action for their end-of-service benefit against five Defendants.
The conference attracted both ex-senior and junior workers of the Sierra National Airlines. The Law Firm of Garber and Co. is representing a total of 180 ex- employees of SNA who are demanding their end-of- service benefits for six years including unpaid salaries. It would be recalled that in 2006 the National Commission for Privatization (NCP) authorized the liquidation of SNA.
It would appear that the process was conducted with no proper mechanism put in place for compensation and payment of end-of-service benefits to the ex-workers who contributed to the existence of the organization until it was liquidated. Prior to the liquidation process, workers of the Sierra National Airlines had been voicing out concerns, which are related to their end-of-service benefits and payment of salaries, but it became apparent that not much attention was paid to issues raised by the ex-workers.
The official appointment of the liquidator was done in 2009 and it was the expectation of the ex-workers that all necessary arrangement had been put in place, but turned out to be a disaster for them. According to the ex-workers who are now plaintiffs in a Civil Suit against the Attorney General and four others, very little or nothing was done to salvage their situation. Frustration, joblessness and deaths have been their uninvited guests for the past years to date.
Lawyer Maurice Garber, senior partner in the Law Firm of Garber and Co. told the gathering of pressmen that his firm will use a two-track approach on behalf of the ex-workers to address the issue, at the same time the firm will employ a negotiation strategy with the Government of Sierra Leone to resolve the issue. He reiterated the importance of the Fast Track Commercial Court, which he said is very significant in the matter.
Lawyer Garber disclosed that his firm has already filed the matter on 24th August 2012 to the Fast Track Commercial Court, and would therefore not comment on the merit of the matter, because according to him it is subjudice. He said that legal papers filed in court involved the Liquidator, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Sierra Leone Airport Authority and the National Commission for Privatization as Respondents; and concluded by calling on all ex- employees to continue to exercise maximum patience.