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ATS Saga: Chairman Calls For Investigation On ATS Dividend Payout

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
15 Jan 2018 11:47
ATS Saga: Chairman Calls For Investigation On ATS Dividend Payout
Crowd of supporters holding placards at the Fiji Trades Union Congress march in Nadi Town on January 13, 2018. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

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.

Edited by Percy Kean

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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