3 August 2014

Ethiopia: Sheraton Addis Fires 65 Employees After Prolonged Tensions

Photo: Sheraton Hotel
Sheraton Addis hotel fires over 60 workers.

Those fired include all members of the board of an employees' union, formed back in 2010

The management of the Sheraton Addis - one of Ethiopia's most luxurious hotels under the ownership of Mohammed Ali Al-Amoudi (Sheikh) - has, on July 30, 2014, fired 65 workers from its approximate total 800 employees, according to the labour union of the Hotel.

The workers received individual letters of termination from the Human Resources department of the Hotel on Tuesday, July 30, 2014. These explained that the management had been moved to fire them, as they are disturbing the industrial peace at the Hotel.

The working relationship between the management and the employees has deteriorated recently, which is affecting the good will of the Hotel and the industrial peace, according to a letter of termination handed to one of the workers.

Based on its continuous follow up and investigation, the management has identified certain employees who are causing and intensifying the problems, it claimed in the letter.

The workers, on the other hand, claim that there has been poor employee treatment and weak incentive mechanisms in place at the Hotel for the past 16 years. Continuous attempts were made by Fortune to reach the management and include their response, but they proved unsuccessful.

The Union, which was formed on April 28, 2010, consists of 650 members, of which nine are members of the executive board and another 25 members of the council committee. All the members of the board were included among the 65 employees with whom the Hotel terminated its employment relationship.

"We frequently submitted petitions at different times, but we did not get a positive response," said Dawit Samuel, chairperson of the Union.

The disagreement between the Union and the management of the Hotel began shortly after the establishment of the Union. The disagreement, which began in December 2010 over the payment and distribution of service charges, continued to be a bone of contention until interrupted negotiations in February 2011.

The hotel divides the total 10pc service charge it collects among the employees, which the employees want to continue as business booms over Christmas, resulting in a bigger income for them by then.

The recent disagreement began due to the approaching of the expiry date of the previous collective agreement on June 21, 2014, according to Dawit. There was a lack of willingness on the part of the management to sit for discussions on the points submitted for negotiation, he claims.

The petition from the Union was submitted to the Federation of Hotels and Tourism Employees Trade Union (FHTETU), which then took the case to the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions (CETU). Upon giving five day's notice, the CETU took the case to the labour relations board of the Addis Abeba Social & Labour Affairs Bureau.

The current termination has come into effect amidst pending negations, which were being mediated by the board's representative, according to Dawit.

The fired members of the board have presented the situation to the board, which is set decide on the matter on August 05, 2014, he said.

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