…As ATSSSAN, NAAPE, NUATE, ANAP disagree
The redundancy notice issued by Aero Contractors of Nigeria Limited to its staff recently is fueling very serious disagreements amongst major aviation unions in the country.
Aero Contractors, Nigeria’s oldest airline, had on March 16, 2017 issued letters of redundancy, which affected about 60 per cent of its total workforce.
Reacting to the action of the airline, three aviation labour unions under the auspices of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE); Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) in a statement issued at the weekend and jointly signed by the Deputy General Secretary of ATSSSAN, Comrade Frances Akinjole, General Secretary of NUATE, Comrade Olayinka Olu’ Abioye and General Secretary of NAAPE, Comrade Aba Ocheme, expressed extreme displeasure and dismay at the “unilateral and reckless attempt” of disengaging Aero staff with total disregard for the negotiated and agreed terms of redundancy between the unions and Aero Management.
The unions in the statement, dated March 17th, 2017 and copied to the Chief Executive Officer, Aero Contractors, Commissioner of Police, Airport Command and all the Branch Chairmen/Secretaries of ATSSSAN, NUATE, and NAAPE stated “we were rudely shocked to learn that your Management carried out the redundancy exercise yesterday Thursday 16th March 2017 outside the purview of the negotiated terms”.
“We find it unbelievable that the same Receiver Manager who was unavailable to meet with us on Wednesday 15th March 2017 became available to endorse over 750 Notification of Redundancy letters on Thursday, March 16, 2017. This exercise was carried out without any benefit whatsoever paid to the victims; not even their outstanding salaries.
It is even more disturbing that no promise or timeline for payment was stated in the said letter”, the aviation unions added.
The trio, therefore, maintained that they stand by the negotiated redundancy agreements between the parties, adding “and we shall not accept anything less. We therefore reject in totality the objectionable unilateral actions taken on the matter by your Management on Thursday 16th March 2017”.
The unions also demanded that Aero immediately withdraw the mentioned Notification of Redundancy letters and avail themselves to meet with the unions on or before the close of business on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 to discuss the way forward on the implementation of the signed redundancy agreements.
It equally threatened that Aero’s failure to discuss way forward will leave them with nothing, than to consider other options available to our unions.
But Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP) has faulted plans by the Air Transport Senior Staff services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) on its plans for a showdown with management of Aero Contractors over the latter’s redundancy declaration of 60% of its workforce.
The union stated that the company was well within its rights and has acted in accordance with labour laws without violating any laws especially as the bigger picture is to ensure the airline’s survival in the long run.
”Redundancy” according to Nigeria Labour Laws means an involuntary and permanent loss of employment caused by an excess of manpower.
Secretary General of ANAP, Comrade Abdul Rasaq Saidu, in a chat with journalists, stated that there was no need for any bravado as the company has done what it needs to as it concerns the Nigeria Labour Laws.
Quoting Nigeria labour Laws, Saidu said: “In the event of redundancy: the employer shall inform the trade union or worker’s representative concerned of the reasons for and extent of the anticipated redundancy; the principle of ”last in, first out” shall be adopted in the discharge of the particular category of workers affected, subject to all factors of relative merit, including skill, ability and reliability; and the employer shall use his best endeavours to negotiate redundancy payments to any discharged workers who are not protected by regulations made under subsection (2) of this section.”
He explained further,” I think before they took that decision, they must have viewed a lot of things and wanted to act in line with the Labour law. See, the law states that if you are an employer and it is by law that you the employer should provide jobs for the worker to do and the minute there is no job for that worker and you cannot keep paying them without that job you have the right, under the law, to inform him that he is redundant because there is no job to do and that is what they are doing in Aero Contractors.”
“I think the management is following the law because the labour law is there on redundancy and there is no union worth its salt over the years that will not include redundancy in its terms and conditions of services and collective bargaining agreement. So, if any employer informs its staff of redundancy, the only thing that will bring friction is if that employer cannot pay in line with the service or collective agreement of those you declare redundant that is all.”
“The law says you cannot force unwilling employers to accept to absorb any unwilling staff. The contraction is there. Ability to pay is not there any longer because the employer is saying he cannot pay any longer so you better take y your entitlement, if the future improves we will employ you. It is the best thing they have done and I think it is long overdue.”
Meanwhile, impeccable sources have hinted that the notice had become necessary because the airline had been grappling with huge and unrealistic personnel cost as well as other operational challenges worsened by lack of adequate aircraft to keep all the workers meaningfully engaged.
A statement from Aero Contractors stated that the issuance of notification of redundancy is a business decision that will ensure Aero’s survival, stressing that “the current situation where over a thousand people are basically not engaged due to lack of serviceable aircraft is not sustainable for the airline. The huge monthly salary associated with a bloated workforce will eventually kill the airline, which is not the intention of the current government”.