UK Offers Help For 9,000 Thomas Cook Staff

British Government officials and embassy staff (R) assist passengers left stranded after the collapse of British travel firm Thomas Cook, at Punta Cana’s international airport, in the Dominican Republic, on September 23, 2019.  Erika SANTELICES / AFP

 

Thousands of UK staff who lost their jobs after the sudden collapse of holiday giant Thomas Cook will be offered assistance, Britain said Wednesday.

The Conservative government, alongside the Civil Aviation Authority regulator, is already rushing to fly home 150,000 stranded UK holidaymakers.

At the same time, it has also sought to offer help to the 9,000 UK-based employees who were left without a job. In total, some 22,000 staff around the world were left jobless.

Some of the workforce has been retained to help repatriate thousands of stranded passengers from abroad, but many have already been made redundant.

Debt-plagued Thomas Cook, which struggled against fierce online competition for years and blamed Brexit uncertainty for a recent drop in bookings, declared bankruptcy Monday after failing to secure fresh funds.

“In addition to supporting passengers, we have been working across government to ensure the 9,000 former Thomas Cook employees in the UK and those overseas receive the support that they need as well,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told parliament in a statement on Wednesday.

 ‘Deeply upsetting’ 

“The decision by Thomas Cook’s Group Board has been deeply upsetting for employees who are losing their jobs,” said Shapps.

Britain’s jobcentres are now in close contact with Thomas Cook’s liquidators.

The government has also established a task force that will “address the impact on employees and local communities” of the company’s collapse, Shapps said.

“This will help to attempt to overcome barriers to attending training, securing a job and self employment — such as providing childcare costs, tools, work clothes and travel costs,” he said.

Meanwhile, London’s massive repatriation plan for stranded holidaymakers is expected to take two weeks.

About 30,000 people were flown home on Monday and Tuesday, according to the CAA.

The regulator is also working to repatriate a number of pilots and cabin crew who had been stranded abroad due to the timing of its insolvency.

Turning to fierce media and political criticism of the way the debt-plagued company was managed, Shapps added that corporate behaviour would be probed.

Shapps said the government has called upon the Financial Reporting Council “to ensure they prioritise as a matter of urgency” an investigation into both the causes of Thomas Cook’s failure — and the conduct of its directors and auditors.

Prime Minster Boris Johnson on Tuesday questioned whether failing management should receive huge salaries, amid reports that the last five chief executives had pocketed a total of £47 million (53 million euros, $58 million) in pay and bonuses since 2007.

Questions over bonuses 

Monday’s bankruptcy followed a lengthy period of chronic financial turmoil after a disastrous series of mergers left it burdened with soaring debt, a large branch network and high costs.

“The travel company went under because successive chief executives failed to steer the group effectively or evolve the business,” said Andy McDonald, transport spokesman for the main opposition Labour party.

McDonald urged the government to make clear that Thomas Cook executives should “return their multi-million-pound undeserved and unwarranted bonuses”.

Shapps replied: “This was in the end a very poorly run business going in the wrong direction at the wrong time.

“He makes a very sensible point querying about the return of bonuses,” adding that the insolvency service had powers to require that they be handed back.

AFP

Missing UK Consulate Staff Detained In Hong Kong

 

The family of a missing employee of Britain’s consulate in Hong Kong said Wednesday that authorities told them he was detained while returning from a business trip but do not know why, where or how long he will be held.

The consulate has refused to name the man or give details about the incident and a Chinese official said he was “not aware” of the situation.

But the family wrote on Facebook that his name is Simon Cheng and that he had travelled to Shenzhen in Guangdong province, an hour outside Hong Kong, for a one-day business meeting on August 8.

That night, Cheng returned via high-speed train and sent messages to his girlfriend as he was about to go through customs.

“We lost contact with him since then,” according to the Facebook post.

It said Hong Kong’s Immigration Department, after consulting with the city’s trade office in Guangdong, “told us verbally that Simon has been administratively detained, but said that they could obtain no information on why, where and for how long he was to be detained.”

The family said it has received no notice of administrative detention. Lawyers have confirmed that Cheng’s case is being handled by the Shenzhen Municipal Public Security Bureau, but failed to ascertain where he is now, the family said.

“We feel very helpless and are worried sick about Simon. We hope that Simon can return to Hong Kong as soon as possible,” the family post said.

Hong Kong police confirmed they had opened a missing person case on August 9.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said: “I am not aware of the relevant situation.”

 Weeks of rallies 

The incident comes as the financial hub faces its worst political crisis in decades.

Pro-democracy protesters have staged weeks of rallies that have often descended into violent clashes with police.

Beijing has taken an increasingly hard line against the protests, which it sees as a direct challenge to its rule.

It has also repeatedly warned Britain — the former colonial ruler of Hong Kong — against “interference” in the protests, and relations between the two countries have been increasingly strained over the issue.

The demonstrations were triggered by a controversial extradition law but have broadened into a call for wider democratic reforms.

China had promised to respect the freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory after its handover from Britain in 1997.

Hong Kong enjoys liberties unseen on the mainland, including freedom of speech, unfettered access to the internet and an independent judiciary.

But the ongoing protests have raised fears of a Chinese crackdown.

Known for its high-tech market, the metropolis of Shenzhen sits behind China’s “Great Firewall”, which restricts access to news and information.

With Beijing attempting to shape the narrative of the unrest in Hong Kong, Chinese authorities have increased their inspections at the border, including checking the phones and devices of some passengers for photos of the protests.

AFP

Google Fires 48 Employees Over Sexual Harassment Allegations

Google said Thursday it fired 48 employees in the past two years, including 13 “senior” executives, as a result of sexual harassment allegations, citing “an increasingly hard line” on inappropriate conduct.

The US tech giant issued the statement from chief executive Sundar Pichai in response to a New York Times report that one senior Google employee, Android creator Andy Rubin, received an exit package worth $90 million as he faced allegations of misconduct.

Akeredolu Presents Staff Of Office To Traditional Ruler

Rotimi Akeredolu, Supreme Court
File Photo

Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has presented a Staff of Office to a traditional ruler, Oba Ajayi Oduyi (the Alapaka 1 of Kiribo Kingdom) in Ese-Odo Local Government area of Ondo state.

The stool became vacant on February 13, 2013, following the demise of Oba Fredrick Omosegbon, the Niyon of kiribo.

Presenting the new monarch with the Staff of Office and Instrument of Appointment at the Methodist Primary School playing field, Kiribo, Akeredolu congratulated him on his ascension to the throne of his ancestors.

The Governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Ifedayo Abegunde, wished the monarch many years of peaceful reign over his subjects.

He also asked the people of Kiribo at home and in the diaspora to give their maximum support to Oduyi, in order to achieve success during his reign.

In an interview with newsmen, the Deputy Governor, Hon Agboola Ajayi, urged his fellow indigenes to cooperate with the new monarch for a successful reign.

He appealed to the people to maintain the peaceful co-existence enjoyed in the town.

In his acceptance speech, the new monarch appreciated Akeredolu for ensuring fairness all through his installation process and promised to support the government to achieve success.

NAICOM Staff Protest Unpaid Allowances, To Commence Warning Strike

National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) staff are currently protesting in Abuja.

The workers are calling for the removal of the Commissioner for Insurance, Alhaji Mohammed Kari.

The workers are also protesting due to alleged non-promotion of staff in the commission. The workers claim the absence of work tools and non-payments of their allowances.

Delay in the review of insurance Act 2003 by the National Assembly is also part of the demands of the workers. They claim that the proposed insurance bill, when passed, would ensure that policies are up to date and implemented timely.

The workers are to commence a three-day warning strike today.

More details soon.

Staff Casualised Workers Or Face Industrial Action, NUEE Warns KEDCO

NUEE, KEDCO, Workers, StaffThe National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has issued a 7-day ultimatum to the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO) to confirm the over 2,000 staff under its employment or face industrial disharmony.

Addressing reporters in Kaduna State, the Northwest Zonal Assistant Secretary of the union, Mr Moses Amedu, decried what he called the ‘unfavourable policy and casualisation’ of workers by the company.

He accused the management of Kaduna Electric of deliberately refusing to confirm the workers over 16 months after they were employed, and also laying off some staff without any reason.

Mr Amedu vowed that the union would paralyse activities at the company if the management fails to confirm the workers and recall the sacked ones.

“Kaduna Electric under its watch did not train any of their staff since their appointment in September 2015 till date, and expects them to perform magic.

“Staff are indiscriminately transferred, irrespective of their location or status with no transfer benefit.

“The management is evasive to all labour relationship and do not carry them along in their activities.

“We are hereby giving a one-week ultimatum today, February 2, 2017 to attend to our demands or risk industrial disharmony,” he said.

KEDCO Reacts To Allegations

However, the management of KEDCO reaffirmed the company’s unalloyed respect for both national and international labour laws and conventions.

Reacting to the allegations, the company’s Head of Corporate Communications, Mr Abdulazeez Abdullahi, said that more than 90% of the workers have been confirmed while a negligible percentage that failed to measure up to the basic requirement of the company were laid off.

He explained further that some staff were put on a six months’ probation to give them a chance to improve on their performance.

Mr Abdullahi restated that the company was committed to ensuring harmonious working relations with its staff.

He noted that the management had submitted a draft ‘condition of service’ to the union for its input over a month ago, stressing that the union was yet to revert to the company.

Over 90% Staff Confirmed

“The management followed a rigorous evaluation procedure in assessing its staff, most of whom were confirmed this week.

“More than 90% of the workers have been confirmed while a negligible percentage that failed to measure up to the basic requirement of the company were laid off.

“Also, some staff were put on a six months’ probation to give them a chance to improve their performance.

“And with the confirmation exercise over, the company is poised growth as it will soon unveil a comprehensive training plan to enhance staff skills and productivity.

“The confirmation exercise was delayed because of the tedious nature of the exercise that included a verification of the academic qualifications of its about 3,000 workforce.

“The management has in the spirit of wider consultation, submitted a draft ‘condition of service’ to the electricity workers’ union for its input over a month ago and the union is yet to revert to the company.

“The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) had expressed reservation on the outcome of the talent review recently conducted by Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company,” Abdullahi said.

Kaduna: Yero Releases N800 Million Pensioners’ Entitlements

Kaduna governorState government has paid the retirement benefits worth over N840 Million Naira to 309 retired civil servants; who have served the state meritoriously.

While speaking during the presentation of cheques to the pensioners, Governor Yero noted that, despite the dwindling revenue accruing to Kaduna, the state government has expended over N2 billion for the payment of gratuities of civil servants who retired between January to July, 2014.

The governor also disclosed that his administration has paid a total of N4.7 billion as backlog of retirement benefits for the state civil servants dating back to seven years, and also cleared the backlog of gratuities and death benefits of retirees and deceased staff in the service.

It was a moment of joy for this senior citizens as they filed out to receive their cheques from the governor, most of whom just retired from service last year.

The beneficiaries are batches 5, 6 and 7 of pensioners who were captured in the months of May, June and July, 2014. They filed out to receive the cheques from the state governor in the admiration of their relations and colleagues.

While pledging the commitment of the State government towards ensuring prompt payment of pensions and other retirement benefits, Governor Yero said his administration remained committed to settling all pension liabilities as part of efforts to raise the production capacity of the civil service.

Some of the beneficiaries expressed appreciation to the state government for the payment of their pension and gratuities, and also promised to reciprocate the gesture by voting massively for the governor, who is seeking a re-election for another four year term.

It is expected that the wealth of experience that this pensioners have acquired over the years in service will be an added advantage in terms of initiating viable ventures with the money.