Kenya Airways, last Friday, sacked 22 of its 26 Nigerian employees, retaining just the Country Manager, Station Manager, and two other employees.
This action was reportedly carried out at their Lagos office in the presence of unfriendly-looking police officers contracted to deter the victims from engaging in business disrupting activities.
The airline flouted the Nigerian labour law which opposes a unilateral decision by employers when disengaging workers. Also, the disengaged workers were only remunerated for four weeks after disengagement.
The airline’s decision comes as a shock to industry stakeholders in that airline is currently in negotiation with the industry unions on new conditions of service.
General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, Comrade Olayinka Abioye stated the unilateral decision to sack the workers will be contested and the business is likely to be picketed. According to Abioye: ”“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. 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 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 the 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 traveling 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,” he added.