The National Union of Air Transport Employees on Thursday grounded the operations of Kenya Airways over the sacking of no fewer than 20 Nigerian employees.
NUATE’s General Secretary, Olayinka Abioye, said that the union would not call off the strike except the airline’s management met the union to negotiate terms of disengagement of the affected workers.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the union members barricaded the airline’s check-in counter at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and prevented passengers from boarding.
The unionists, who occupied the check-in counter as early as 6 am, also warned allied airline, Air Rwanda, not to violate the country’s labour laws by assisting to fly Kenya Airways passengers.
Abioye accused Kenya Airways of anti-labour practices and breach of collective bargaining protocols.
He alleged that the airline had violated the extant labour laws by declaring the affected workers redundant and refused to pay them their entitlements.
Abioye claimed that the workers were sacked when negotiations by the union and the airline were ongoing, contrary to the fundamental principles of the Labour Act.
However, the airline, through a letter to the union, denied the allegations.
The letter, which was signed by Kenya Airways ‘Acting Chief Human Resources Officer, Bridgette Imbuga, said it invited the union through a letter dated April 11 for a negotiation over the sacked workers.
Imbuga alleged that the union was unwilling to engage the airline management over the affected workers.
She explained that the affected employees were those engaged in sales and commercial services, which had now been contracted out.
She argued that the airline had complied with the provisions of Sections 20 (1) (a) and (b) of the Labour Act, Cap 198, Laws of Nigeria, in declaring the affected workers redundant.
Imbuga, however, said that the airline would pay the affected workers one month salary each in lieu of notice and severance allowance at the rate of 23 days’ basic salary for every completed year of service.
She said the workers would also be paid for unutilised leave days that accrued as of the date they were relieved of their duties.