ATS Board chair­man calls for in­ves­ti­ga­tion on div­i­dend pay­out

The ATS board will now con­sider re­port­ing the mat­ter to the Fiji In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion against Cor­rup­tion (FICAC).

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - SHEL­DON CHANEL Edited by Percy Kean

The Air Ter­mi­nal Ser­vices Board chair­man Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has de­nied claims that ATS staff had not been paid div­i­dends and has called for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion “of the high­est or­der”.

At a press con­fer­ence in Suva yes­ter­day Mr Sayed-Khaiyum pre­sented copies of div­i­dend pay­out doc­u­ments show­ing that the em­ploy­ees trust re­ceived more than $5.7mil­lion in pay­ments from 2005 to 2016.

He said the claim that div­i­dends were not paid was a “bla­tant lie”.

The ATS board will now con­sider re­port­ing the mat­ter to the Fiji In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion against Cor­rup­tion (FICAC). “So the ques­tion re­mains if only around $500,000 was re­ceived by ATSET last year, what’s hap­pened to the re­main­ing $5.2m that was given to ATSET for its ben­e­fi­cia­ries - the staff of ATS – since 2005?” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Air Ter­mi­nal Ser­vices Em­ployee’s trust (ATSET) sec­re­tary Vil­iame Finau this month claimed the em­ploy­ees had not re­ceived any pay­outs from 2007 to 2015. He said the last pay­ment the trust re­ceived was in 2016.

How­ever, in the doc­u­ments dis­trib­uted to the me­dia dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in Suva a pay­out was made each year from 2005 to 2016.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said that the mat­ter had been politi­cised and that it should not dis­tract “us from seek­ing pub­lic ac­count­abil­ity”.

“These div­i­dends were for the work­ers who were iron­i­cally march­ing yes­ter­day (Satur­day) in protest of better con­di­tions and pay,” he said.

The Fiji Sun called Mr Finau for a clar­i­fi­ca­tion. Ini­tially he said he was too busy to talk. How­ever, in a later email he said: “You may or may not be aware that we have been ‘il­le­gally locked out’ of our ‘of­fice’ so it would be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to fa­cil­i­tate you with a sound re­sponse right away.” The doc­u­ments were revealed as the ATS work­ers’ stand­off en­ters its 31st day to­day. The work­ers say their salaries had not in­creased in the past 11 years. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the claim was an “out­right lie”.

And that he had “am­ple ev­i­dence of pay in­creases for many staff ”. An­other stick­ing point in the stand­off has been a let­ter drafted by the board that the work­ers must sign in or­der to re­turn to work. It re­quires them to ad­mit that leaving their work sta­tions on De­cem­ber 16 to at­tend an emer­gency trustee meet­ing was il­le­gal and a strike. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said: “It was il­le­gal (the meet­ing). If they fol­lowed the pro­ce­dure, they would have been al­lowed to go to that meet­ing – but they did not.

“We want them back at work and the of­fer is still open. The let­ter is very clear: come back to work. All they have to do is to ad­mit that the walk­out was il­le­gal.”

The work­ers are adamant that they were sim­ply at­tend­ing a meet­ing and were locked out by the man­age­ment il­le­gally. They re­fused to sign the let­ter.

The Fiji Trades Union Congress or­gan­ised a protest march in Nadi on Satur­day in sup­port of the work­ers. Po­lice say more than 2500 peo­ple at­tended the march.

So the ques­tion re­mains if only around $500,000 was re­ceived by ATSET last year, what’s hap­pened to the re­main­ing $5.2m that was given to ATSET for its ben­e­fi­cia­ries the staff of ATS – since 2005? Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum Air Ter­mi­nal Ser­vices Board chair­man

Photo: Waisea Na­sokia

Crowd of sup­port­ers hold­ing plac­ards at the Fiji Trades Union Congress march in Nadi Town on Jan­uary 13, 2018.

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