By Louis Ibah
Aero Contractors of Nigeria Limited has hinted it would lay off about 60 per cent of its current workforce after a crippling and unrealistic personnel cost as well as other operational challenges weighed down its revenue.
A statement by the airline yesterday said it had issued the notification of redundancy to staff explaining that it is a business decision that will ensure Aero’s survival.
“This decision was communicated to the unions where their understanding was solicited in view of prevailing operational difficulties. The current situation where over a thousand people are basically not engaged due to lack of serviceable aircraft is not sustainable for the airline,” the statement said.
“The huge monthly salary associated with a bloated workforce will eventually kill the airline, which is not the intention of the current government,” it added.
Aero Contractors currently has aircraft-to-employee ratio of 1:500, which analysts believe is perhaps the worse in the history of global airline industry.
The statement, however, added that those in Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) and other essential staff in critical departments will not be affected by the notification just as Capt. Ado Sanusi, the Chief Executive Officer of Aero, and his management team have also ensured that the affected workers will be able to access their full gratuity as well as a part of their pension to cushion the effect of the development. They also stand a chance of being recalled as soon as Aero increases the number of aircraft in its fleet in the near future.
In a swift reaction, the President of Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Mr. Ahmadu Ilitrus, said he was not aware of the purported redundancy notice to workers.
Ilitrus described the move as unacceptable to them as meeting to that effect has been scheduled for today, stressing that the union had advised workers not to collect any letter from the management of Aero.
According to the ATSSSAN president, “we are not against redundancy but what we are saying is that before you sack them, there must be money to pay them and I know Aero does not have the money to pay them. They went ahead to hold meetings with our branch members but we have told them the matter has gone beyond the branch.”
He said the process ought to have taken place as far back as October last year, adding that there was a meeting last month to review the progress made but the Aero management pleaded for time to work things out in order to commence the process.
Ilitrus cautioned management of Aero Contractors not to give room for industrial unrest warning that money for all affected workers must be ready at the point of the collection of their letters.