One of the leading unions in the Nigerian aviation industry, the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), has threatened to ground the operations of Aero Contractors over its dismissal of 60 percent of its workforce, in violation of the airline’s agreement with the union.
The airline cited redundancy as the reason for the layoffs.
The president of NAAPE, Abdenego Galadima, in an interview with journalists on Sunday at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, alleged that hundreds of workers who were laid off by the airline were yet to be paid their pittances by the management as agreed to with the unions in March this year.
Galadima said that none of the agreements entered with the unions leading to the sacking of hundreds of engineers and pilots were abided to by the management.
It would be recalled that Aero Contractors has been under the receivership of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON). The airline was taken over by AMCON following massive unpaid indebtedness to banks by the airline.
Galadima accused the receiver manager of Aero Contractors of unilaterally throwing the affected workers out of the airline without paying them their redundancy benefits, describing it as “wicked impunity” which would not be allowed to stand.
He declared that the strike would commence as soon as the NAAPE finished consultations with other unions in the industry, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and other affiliated bodies.
The union leader purported that the airline ran into murky waters due to mismanagement of resources, unbridled profligacy and massive fraudulent practices, but regretted that workers were now being made to pay the price.
He said the workers worked tirelessly to ensure the airline remained in the air, but eventually went down due to several connivances.
Galadima insisted that the intervention of AMCON further plunged the oldest airline in the country into more crises, saying that the mismanagement of resources continued unabated while more questionable transactions were enacted by those appointed by the corporation.
“The situation was compounded by bringing on board several key officials and management who were unknowledgeable about airline business and whose administration styles were corrosive and unsuitable to an operations-based business like an airline.
“It was indeed with much pain that the unions eventually negotiated a redundancy package on behalf of the workers declared redundant by the management. This was after we persuaded ourselves to accept this burden as further sacrifice needed to avoid a complete crash of the airline.
“Worse still, the company’s poor financial health meant that the redundant employees could only be offered pittance. We were left with no choice but to accept a worse possible redundancy package for our members. We did this to demonstrate our desire to see the airline through the prevailing travails.”
It would be recalled that Aero Contractors’ management had sacked 60 percent of its workforce over redundancy claims earlier in the year.
The management said it took the decisive decision following inadequate equipment (aircraft), adding that it could not continue to pay high wages to workers who had no jobs to do at the airline.
Before the layoffs, the airline had a staff of over 1000 workers.
The statement added that it was confronted with high operational challenges, as most of its aircraft were not airworthy while some of its aircraft were due for C-Checks.