Kenya Airways blames Nigeria labour union for sack of 24 Nigerian staff

Kenya Airways has blamed the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) for the sack of 24 of its Nigerian workers saying the labour union failed to take pro-active steps to protect the local staff when they were notified of Kenya Airways’ intention to render the workers redundant.

You recall, Kenya Airways shocked many yesterday when they sacked 22 of their 26 employees in Nigeria and appointed Total Air Logistics Limited, a general sales agent (GSA) to handle its commercial operations and customer service.

The four Nigerian staff currently retained by the management of the airline after the exercise were the Country Manager Afeez Balogun, the Station Manager, and two other staff.

The 24 sacked Kenya Airways staff were issued their disengagement letters at the airline’s office in Lagos in the presence of stern-looking police officers who were engaged by the airline to scare away the affected staff and prevent possible breakdown of law and order.

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A source told Punch that the “affected staff were only given four weeks wages on disengagement by the management”.

Fast forward to today, a document made available to Daily Sun by a source within Kenya Airways listed several attempts made by the airline to facilitate a meeting with the unions on the planned redundancy of some of the Nigerian workers insisting that the union had failed to honour scheduled meetings to deliberate on the fate of the workers.

“We were very sad that the Nigerian union had clearly avoided the meetings scheduled with Kenya Airways on the redundancy plans, they kept procrastinating even when some of Kenya Airways officials came from our head office in Nairobi, Kenya. And it was as if they weren’t interested in what goes on with the workers,” said the source.

The letter with reference number: IR/NUATE/11/04/2018/BF dated April 11, 2018, sent to the General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and signed by the Acting Chief Human Resources Officer of Kenya Airways, Bridgette Imbuga, and made available to Daily Sun, stated that the airline as at January 15, 2018 notified the union of its redundancy plan.

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According to the letter, 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 no excuses for its inability to honour any of the dates proposed by the union itself.

“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.

Kenya Airways operates 10 weekly flights to Nigeria from Nairobi. Kenya Airways, known by its international code KQ, said it hired Total Air Logistics, a general sales agent, to sell passenger tickets and cargo space in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city.

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A general sales agent (GSA) is a firm to which an airline delegates authority to represent it for purposes of overseeing sales in a defined territory. It is paid a commission.

Airlines normally use a GSA in areas where they do not operate from, allowing them to have a sales presence in the country at a lower cost than opening their own offices.

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