Hotelier AfriSun in Ghana staff packages row

By: 
Staff Reporter

ZIMBAWEAN hotel and leisure group African Sun (AfriSun) faces demands for severance packages from workers at the Ghana hotel the company operated until a recent decision to exit West Africa.

The architect of the group’s regional expansion, former CEO Shingi Munyeza, has since left the company with chairman, Herbert Nkala, blaming the strategy for AfriSun’s high gearing ratio.

AfriSun moved into the region to mitigate the impact of hyperinflation but the company has now terminated its Ghana operation where it ran Amber Accra Hotel in addition to exiting from its Nigeria investment.

However, workers in Ghana are demanding severance packages and accuse AfriSun management of also failing up outstanding salaries.

The hotel has since been handed over to Trassaco Ghana Limited, the company which rented the building to AfriSun.

Union leaders however said there was anger after AfriSun left Ghana without paying what they owe their workers.

AfriSun’s human resource director, Elijah Nyakurerwa, was said to have recently flown to Ghana and negotiate the severance pay for the staff.

According to local media, Nyakurerwa told the workers that he was not going to give them anything and that he would also leave Ghana and neither the police nor the government of Ghana can do anything.

He also reportedly warned staff that AfriSun could deliberately file for bankruptcy and can leave Ghana without anyone questioning them.

“The HR director also told us that if we dare bring a lawyer to the meeting, they will also bring a much knowledgeable lawyer than our own and they will drag the case for over five years till we give up,” said union chair, Jairus Abormegah.

Some workers said they had not been paid their overtime since 2013 but were forced to work on holidays and weekends under threat.

“Majority of us have not been allowed to embark on our annual leave over a 23 months period, but remuneration for those outstanding leave days has been denied us,” Abormegah added.

“Our probation salaries which management told us would be increased when we become permanent staff were never increased. Meanwhile, one person in the hotel is forced do the work of three people.”

Efforts to get a comment from AfriSun in Zimbabwe were not successful Monday.

The company has since contracted Legacy Hotels of South Africa to manage five of its biggest hotels in Zimbabwe and institute a $60 million facelift of its properties over three years.

Hotels affected by the deal include Elephant Hills, Kingdom Hotel, Monomotapa, Hwange Safari Lodge and Troutbeck Inn.

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