Dec 15, 2008, 7:12 AM
A total of 105 staff led by Basiru Gassama, chief security officer at the hotel, are aggrieved after the management of the hotel asked them to go home without salaries, a move considered as unlawful.
“We are not disputing about our going home, but what we are asking for is to be paid our salaries or be paid our terminal benefits, if the hotel is to be sold,” Gassama, who walked into our office yesterday, said.
According to him, as the chief security officer, he has worked with the hotel for the past 19 years, witnessing three closures, but the latest is the first of its kind where workers are laid off and asked to go home without any benefits.
“While the management of the hotel is claiming financial bankruptcy, they are engaged in hiring privates securities, who are being paid higher compared to our salaries,” he stated.
Gassama further stated that from early 2002 to 2007, the hotel has been operating smoothly, but from 2008 to date it started encountering difficulties; but with all that, the staff were tolerant and dedicated to their work, hoping that things will change soon.
“We are entitled to breakfast and lunch, but we were denied all that; but yet still we were working hard for the hotel,” he said.
To him, what irritated the entire staff was sending them home without anything.
“And when we asked for our salary, the management told us that not all the staff have been affected, which to us is segregation,” he stated.
“Despite all odds, the staff maintained a high sense of responsibility in executing their various functions in the hotel,” Gassama added.
Hamadi Bah, assistant General Manager who is also affected by the move, said the issue has reached the Labour Department, and that after series of consultations, they were given an option: either to take two months salaries to be paid before or after 15th October.
This, he went on, was to be accompanied by a letter guaranteeing their job security in the coming season.
Otherwise, to wait for the hotel to be liquidated for them to be paid their benefits.
“The staff agreed to the first option, but demanded a specific date for payment and a letter that should be signed by the management,” he said.
One Kaddy Jawneh, a staff of the hotel, said she has been working with the hotel for the past seven years, but was disappointed in the way and manner they were “betrayed”, she said.
She called on the government to intervene, and help them solve the impasse.
Dembo Camara, spokesperson for the staff association, also appealed on behalf of the staff for government’s intervention in the matter, noting that all efforts to remedy the situation were dashed.
Meanwhile, efforts to reach Modibo Taal, the General Manager of the hotel, proved futile.