Over half the workers of Airports Vanuatu Limited (AVL) serving at airports around the country will go on strike in a month’s time if the Chief Executive Officer, Jason Rakau, sacked last week by the Board of Directors is not reinstated.

On Monday, September 21, the Vanuatu National Workers Union (VNWU), based in Port Vila, on behalf of its members employed by AVL, issued a Notice of Strike to the Commissioner of Labour and Airports Vanuatu Limited warning of industrial action if Rakau is not reinstated to his position.

The notice dated September 21, 2015 signed by the National Secretary Treasurer of VNWU, Ephraim Kalsakau, says unless after 30 days from this notice no acceptable conclusion to their demand for the immediate reinstatement of CEO Jason Rakau, who was appointed on merit and lawful process, but was recently removed through excessive political interference in AVL, their members will engage in industrial actions in pursuance of this dispute.

Another reason given for the strike notice is that staff does not have trust and confidence with the current management led by Acting CEO – Willie Watson “who is facing claims of serious misconduct at work and misappropriation of funds”, it was alleged.

Furthermore, that the current situation is creating unnecessary anxiety and uncertainty within AVL.

Also they pointed to alleged “indications of fraud, impersonations, endeavoring to cover up investigations into past criminal activities, and now probable backroom dealings in the $US60 million (Vt6.9 billion) aviation upgrade project for Vanuatu”.

AVL manages airports throughout Vanuatu including Bauerfield Airport in Port Vila, Pekoa Airport in Luganville, Santo and Whitegrass Airport on Tanna.

And a total of 137 staff members, over half of the workforce are members of the VNWU, who will take industrial action if no acceptable conclusion is reached on their demand for the immediate reinstatement of Jason Rakau to the CEO’s position.

When contacted, the Chairman of the AVL Board Alain Lew said he had not seen the strike notice as he was not in the office and he asked that Acting CEO, Willie Watson is sought for any information.

But the Acting CEO said through the company telephone receptionist that he was not in a position to make any comment on a strike action.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

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