By Adekunle Williams and Solomon Asowata
The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) on Sunday said more than 600 employees sacked by Aero Contractors Ltd. in March were yet to get their severance packages.
Mr Olayinka Abioye, the General Secretary, NUATE confirmed the development to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
NAN reports that the airline, which is presently being managed by the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), had sacked more than 600 of its workers representing 60 per cent of its workforce.
The Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Capt. Ado Sanusi, had assured the affected workers that they would be paid their pensions and gratuities.
Abioye, however, noted that the unions in the sector had met with the airline’s management to see how the workers could be paid all their entitlements.
“The truth of the matter is that none of them have been paid the negotiated redundancy benefits but they have received their gratuities which were ware-housed by Stanbic IBTC.
“We just had a meeting with the CEO, and arrangements are in top gear to ensure that no matter how little it is, that whatever the management has been able to raise, will be disbursed to the beneficiaries.
“Let us begin this process of payment to rekindle hope in others that management is desirous of paying them their entitlements and this will be done as quickly as possible,’’ he said.
Abioye also confirmed that the management of the airline had reabsorbed some of its technical staff, following the approval given to it recently by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to carry out C-Check on series of Boeing 737 aircraft.
“The positive side of it is that Aero management has expanded their Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility and they are expecting more monies from there when third party airlines bring their machines there.
“This is a good thing for us because even when that was going on, the management has been able to recall some of our people in technical department and given them contract employment.’’
According to him, the recalled workers have been employed with the proviso that immediately there is a silver lining in the sky that some of them will be reconverted to permanent employees.
“So, there is hope in this direction which therefore means that the number of those declared redundant will lessen which will enable management to focus on only those affected and pay them as soon as possible,’’ he said.
However, one of the affected workers told NAN on the condition of anonymity that it was unfortunate that the management had reneged on its promise to pay the severance packages.
“Most of us that were declared redundant by Aero management are yet to be paid our severance packages months after.
“AMCON management is not willing to pump money into the airline and without the injection of funds by AMCON, the present management can’t get resources to carry out most of the projects they already mapped out.
“AMCON and the management took the right decision to allow the airline to continue operation, but it is unfortunate that they don’t want to pay us the severance packages as promised earlier.’’
Reacting, the media consultant to Aero Contractors, Mr Simon Tumba, told NAN in a telephone interview that he was not aware if the affected workers had been paid or not.