Kenya Airways over the weekend disengages 22 out of its 26 Nigerian employees on Friday with only four workers which includes the Country Manager, Mr. Afeez Balogun and the Station Manager retained.
According to a source within the airline, the sacked staff members were issued the sack letters at the airline’s office in Lagos in the presence of stern looking police officers who were hired by the airline to scare away the affected staff and prevent possible breakdown of law and order.
Confirming the sack of the 22 workers, the General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Olayinka Abioye said that the unilateral sack of the workers by the airline would not be allowed to stand by the industry’s unions.
“We have been agitating for the review of terms and conditions of employment in Kenya Airways for about two years. We started the process and somewhere along the line, the management of Kenya Airways said they were doing restructuring exercise because of the financial conditions of the airline. In the meantime, we have even agreed to certain reviews approved by both parties and only waiting for implementation”, Abioye said.
“That was one of the reasons we embarked on the picketing we did last December. Then, after the picketing, we were invited and we concluded the review and after the review, we discovered that our Nigerian staff were being owed about 26 months monetary benefits.They claimed that they won’t be able to pay all, but after consultations, we agreed for 16 months to be paid the workers.”
“In between, they introduced a new shift into the discussion, saying that going forward they want to replace all business plans with new business plans called General Sales Agent (GSA), which means they want to engage a travelling agency to handle the ticket sales and reservation and all the workers would be sacked,” he noted.
“We as unions, didn’t like that and we expressed our dissatisfaction and they said it was not just only Nigeria that would be affected, but throughout the continent. Then, we just said we have formed a consortium of GSA so that the workers would still be retained, but they informed us that we were too late and as they have engaged another GSA already,” he revealed.
He further added that the unions had informed the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muhtar Usman of its intent to picket the operations of the airline any moment from now.
Meanwhile in letter addressed to NUATE dated 11th April 2018, the airline accused the union of being unwilling to engage the management in negotiations on behalf of the affected workers.
The letter, which was signed by Kenya Airways acting Chief Human Resources Officer, Bridgette Imbuga, claimed that the airline had to use its best endeavours to negotiate terms for the workers.
Imbuga noted that the employees affected by the redundancy were those performing sales and commercial roles which had now been contracted to a General Sales Agent (GSA).
She said that the airline had complied with the provisions of Sections 20 (1) (a) and (b) of the Labour Act, Cap 198, Laws of Nigeria, in declaring the affected workers redundant.
Subsequently, the airline would proceed with the payment of their one month salary in lieu of notice and severance allowance at the rate of 23 days’ basic salary for every completed year of service, Imbuga said.
According to her, among other entitlements, the workers will also receive payment for unutilised leave days accrued as at the date of redundancy