Kenya Airways at the weekend sacked about 22 of its Nigerian workers in an unprecedented move that has infuriated aviation union workers who have vowed to disrupt the airline’s operations in the country from Monday (today).
A source close to the airline told Daily Sun that the affected staff were issued their disengagement letters over the weekend at the airline’s office in Lagos in the presence of stern looking Policemen engaged by the airline to forestall any violent protest or possible breakdown of law and order by the sacked workers.
“Only four Nigerian staff are at present retained by the management of the airline after the retrenchment exercise that affected 22 workers across board,” the source said.
“The affected staff were only given four weeks wages on disengagement by the management, and this is one of the reasons that the industry unions are annoyed with the airline,” the source added. General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Mr Olayinka Abioye on Sunday confirmed the sack of the 22 workers.
Abioye told aviation correspondents that the unilateral sack of the workers by the airline would not be allowed to stand by the unions.
According to him, the sack of the workers is illegal especially at a time the airline management and labour had reached an agreement to implement some of the reviewed conditions of service for the workers.
He said: “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 it was 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 are only waiting implementation.
“That was one of the reasons we embarked on the picketing of the airline which we did last December. Then, after the picketing, we were invited and we concluded the review after which 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.
“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.”