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Sacked 22 Nigerian workers: Kenyan Airways must be recalled before any deal—NAUTE

Considering the fact that the sack of 22 Nigerians working for Kenyan Airline did not follow due process, the Nigerian Union of Air Transport Employees (NAUTE) has called for a reversal before any form of meaningful negotiation can stand.

Already the union has given notice of embarking on an industrial action to protest against the sack which may include picketing.

General Secretary of NUATE, Mr. Olayinka Abioye, in an interview made it clear that the airline’s action was a violation of Nigeria’s labour law.

According to him, “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”.

Key anger of the union stemmed from the fact that it was yet to conclude negotiations with the airline before the workers were asked to go which Abioye described as abuse of labour rules of negotiation.

Business Hilights gathered that 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.

It was also learnt that 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, in a swift reaction to the union’s threats, Kenyan Airline issued a statement claiming that NUATE failed in its duty to protect the interest of its members.

Displaying a letter addressed to NAUTE leadership on the matter dated April 11, 2018, the airline recalled that it had at several times, agreed with the union on different dates in 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.

The letter, signed by the Acting Chief Human Resources Officer, Kenya Airways, Bridgette Imbuga, noted that “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.”

Efforts to get the response of NAUTE on the claims of the letter failed at press time.