Nigerian Union of Air Transport Workers threaten strike over sack of 22 Nigerians by Kenyan Airways

The Nigerian Union of Air Transport Employees has said it will embark on an industrial action to protest against the sacking of 22 Nigerians by the management of Kenyan Airways.

The General Secretary of NUATE, Mr. Olayinka Abioye, told newsmen on Monday that the airline’s action was a violation of Nigeria’s labour law, adding that the union would react accordingly.

“What they have done is null and void and is of no effect; they must call the workers back and conclude the negotiations in accordance with the laws. Nigerians are law-abiding people and it is now obvious that Kenyan Airways came to test the waters and we will not accept that. Industrial crisis is imminent with what Kenyan Airways has done,” he added.

Abioye said the union had yet to conclude negotiations with the airline before the workers were asked to go.

Kenya Airways had on Friday sacked 22 out of its 26 Nigerian employees, representing 86.4 per cent of the entire workforce in the country, and retained only the country manager, the station manager and two others.

Sources at the airline alleged that the workers were issued their disengagement letters in the presence of police officers, who were engaged to prevent a possible breakdown of law and order.

However, the airline on Monday accused NUATE of failing in its duty to protect the interest of its members.

In a letter made available to journalists dated April 11, 2018 and addressed to Abioye, the carrier said the union had picked different dates of February 15 and 26, March 6 and 16, and April 5, 2018 for a meeting with its management but failed to honour any of the appointments, but rather gave excuses for its inability to attend the scheduled meetings.

The letter, signed by the Acting Chief Human Resources Officer, Kenya Airways, Bridgette Imbuga, read in part, “Despite our displeasure, we dutifully indulged you and agreed to hold the meeting on the 16th of March, 2018. Although, you kept us waiting at your national secretariat’s conference room for the better part of the afternoon, you finally turned up for the meeting at 4:30pm local time on the 16th of March, 2018.

“However, you declined to discuss the redundancy subject and instead proposed that we pick another date to specifically negotiate the redundancy payments. After considering each party’s commitments, you personally proposed 5th of April, 2018, which we mutually accepted and firmed up.

It was therefore shockingly disappointing and unexpected that you failed to attend the meeting on the agreed date without any apologies or prior notification, notwithstanding the fact that the management team had travelled to Lagos and were more punctually present for the meeting at the appointed venue.

“From the foregoing, it is clear that you are unwilling or uninterested in engaging the management in negotiations on such an important matter affecting employees who are your members. On our part, we have demonstrated our willingness and commitment to use our best endeavours to negotiate separation terms for the employees who will be affected by the redundancy.”

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