Union members say he was forced out
KINGSTON, Jamaica Tensions are now running high among the staff at Air Jamaica following the shocking and immediate resignation of president Mike Conway.
Workers at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay last night walked off the job, shutting down the airport for a short period, in protest against Mr. Conways resignation. The former president was reportedly well admired by the staff at the national carrier, and reports reaching The Gleaner are that other workers across the island were restive.
Senior negotiating officer of the NWU, Granville Valentine, was advising workers to be mindful of the customer base of the airline.
“Workers have been asking me what it is they can do. I am sure that we will have to do a hell of a job to keep these workers on the job; it is going to be serious times in the next few hours at Air Jamaica,” he told The Gleaner last night. “We just want to appeal to our people to let good sense prevail … and to ensure that we look at the bigger picture,” he added.
According to information reaching The Gleaner, Mr. Conway had a meeting with the new board of the airline, in which he enacted the change of control provision in his contract which allowed him to resign.
But, Mr. Valentine who spoke highly of Mr. Conway, said the union was upset and believed Mr. Conway was forced out of the airline.
“I spoke with Conway earlier today (Thursday) and there was absolutely no decision (on his part) to resign. We are of the view that Mr. Conway was asked to resign. The union at this time is quite upset as to this sudden change for Mr. Conway to leave.”
When contacted, Minister of Transport and Works Mike Henry said he was not aware of the resignation.
Surprisingly the resignation comes one day after the announcement of the appointment of Shirley Williams as chairman of the board of Air Jamaica. When contacted by The Gleaner, Ms Williams was tight-lipped about the reasons surrounding the resignation of Mr.Conway.
“Mr. Conway has resigned and I have accepted his resignation. It would be unfortunate if the workers would jeopardise the smooth operations of the airline because Mr. Conway has tendered his resignation. I am sure they are misguided if they have done so,” she said.
Mr. Conway who was appointed in 2005 at the loss-making airline described his time at the airline as a labour of love.
“It’s a form of divorce if you will and I am disappointed. I won’t be here to execute the plans that I really believed in and was approved by the prior government, because I really believe that the company can be profitable, but major decisions had to be made”.
He continued: “anytime you get new people, new board, new government, they have some different views as to the way forward and that is their prerogative…”