Union to picket Kenya Airways over sack of 22 workers
Airline faults move, accuses NUATE of failing to attend meetings
Aviation workers’ union may picket Kenya Airways next week in protest against the sack of Nigerian workers at the Lagos office.The airlines, citing redundancy, recently sacked 22 out of its 26 Nigerian employees. The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) has kicked against the move and set to meet at a congress on Monday, where the decision on picketing will be taken.
However, Kenya Airways has said that the union was informed about the redundancy plan, but failed to attend scheduled meetings with the airline.The Guardian learnt that the East African carrier issued the disengagement letters at the airline’s office in Lagos in the presence of some policemen, who were engaged by the airline to chase away the affected staffers and prevent possible breakdown of law and order.
As at yesterday, only four of its Nigerian workers were retained by the management. The sacked workers were also compensated with one month salary, much to the dissatisfaction of the aviation unions. Sources noted the carrier’s management took the decision without taking into consideration the Nigeria labour laws, which kicks against unilateral decision by employers when disengaging workers.
It was learnt that plans have also reached an advanced stage by the management of the airline to replace the sacked workers with casuals as it has already contracted engagement of new workers to a General Sales Agent (GSA) in the country.
The General Secretary of NUATE, Olayinka Abioye, confirmed the sack of the 22 workers, adding that the development would not be allowed to stand.Abioye said that the sack was illegal, especially at a time the management 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 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 explained further that the unions had informed the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Muhtar Usman, of the intent to picket the operations of the airline any moment from now.
A letter, with the reference number: IR/NUATE/11/04/2018/BF, dated April 11, 2018, sent to the General Secretary of NUATE and signed by Bridgette Imbuga, Acting Chief Human Resources Officer, Kenya Airways, showed that NUATE had picked different dates ranging from February 15, 2018, February 26, 2018, March 6, 2018, March 16, 2018, and April 5, 2018 for a meeting with the management of the airline, “but failed to honour any of the dates and gave excuses for its inability to honour any of the dates proposed by the union itself.”
According to the airline, “Despite our displeasure, we dutifully indulged you and agreed to hold the meeting on the 16th March 2018. Although, you kept us waiting at your national secretariat conference room for the better part of the afternoon, you finally turned up for the meeting at 4:30pm local time on the 16th 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 parties commitments, you personally proposed 5th 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 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,” the letter read in part.
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