Former Staff of the Sierra National Airline have expressed total disappointed at the way and manner in which the Government of Sierra Leone is treating their issue of their pensions and gratuities. This information was disclosed to Awoko through Morris R. Garber the Attorney advocating on their behalf.
Attorney Garber revealed he filed a claim against the Government of Sierra Leone regarding the matter since May 2012 to the ECOWAS Court. He said progress on the matter has delayed because at some point, the government indicated that it wanted to negotiate. He said that since then nothing has happened which was why he filed the claim in May 2012. According to him the decision to file a claim against the government at the ECOWAS Court hinges on the abuse of the rights of his clients, which he said are being grossly abused. He said the Government of Sierra Leone bears the sole responsibility for the claim noting that at the time of liquidation of the Sierra National Airlines (SNA), the government was the sole shareholder of the company at the time in 2006.
He noted that the government was aware of the fact that there was outstanding redundancy and end of term benefits due to these former SNA employees. He said an additional eight years has gone passed and the government has still not deemed it fit to pay these people what is legally due them. According to the Attorney, suggestion had even come from government that because of the huge sums of money involved their dues will have to be included into the budget for ease of payment. He said they were promised that this will happen in 2012, nothing happened and up to date in 2014, nothing has happened in that regard, the Attorney maintained.
Lawyer Garber said the procrastination of the claims process by government is “torturous” to his 180 clients as a couple of them have lost their lives as they await endlessly for their end of service benefits, citing one Nabieu Kamara who he said, died recently.
Responding to this concern, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Franklyn Kargbo said government will address the issue, but reminded the complainants that they had already taken the matter to the ECOWAS court even when they had indicated to the Liquidator government’s intention to settle matter and that the Liquidator should be restrained not to dispose of the SNA property.
The Minister said he is equally concerned about the welfare of the ex-service men and workers of SNA as they are Sierra Leoneans. He appealed to the frustrated former staff to exercise patience as government is currently working towards tackling the Ebola outbreak which he said is a threat to every Sierra Leonean.
Minister Kargbo explained that the SNA issue was inherited by their government and that it has been around since the 1980s. He noted that when the issue resurfaced they have noticed plenty of “contending issues” that have to go through a process to guarantee a conclusive outcome at the end of the day.
“We are very serious over the issue, hadn’t we been serious, we would not have appointed a Liquidator for a possible disposal of the SNA property. That alone shows our commitment to the issue as a government,” Minister Franklyn Kargbo stated.
By Nancy Koroma
Wednesday August 13, 2014