One of the unions in the Nigerian aviation industry praised the decision from Aero Air to fire 60 percent of its workforce yesterday.
The Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) said that the move would save the airline from collapse and would lead to restructuring by the airline’s management.
General Secretary of ANAP, Mr. Abdulrazak Saidu, said that redundancy according to Nigeria Labour Laws authorized Aero Air to layoff about 500 employees, 60 percent of its workforce.
ANAP’s position is contrary to Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), another trade union in the aviation sector. ATSSSAN said the Aero’s decision was anti-labor and has already threatened a showdown with the organization.
In an interview with Sahara Reporters, Saidu said Aero was well within its rights and had acted in accordance with labor laws. The bigger picture, he said, was to ensure the airline’s survival in the long run.
Saidu declared that there was no need for any showdown with the management, maintaining that the company had done what it needed to do with the present operating environment.
He referenced the Nigerian Labor Law on Redundancy to support his claim:
(a) the employer shall inform the trade union or workers' representative concerned of the reasons for and the extent of the anticipated redundancy;
(b) 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
(c) the employer shall use his best endeavors to negotiate redundancy payments to any discharged workers who are not protected by regulations made under subsection (2) of this section.
“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,” Saidu said. “See, the law states that the minute there is no job for that worker and you cannot keep paying them 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.”
On the position of ATSSSAN, Saidu said that there are different types of unionists in this country now, particularly in aviation.
“We have opportunists and those who are trained unionists and as far as we are concerned, the primary point of call to any employer over this situation is the branch union executives or leaders who are directly their staff,” he said.
He insisted that the national body of the union was an outsider on the issue, stressing that it ought to have negotiated and included clauses in case of a situation like this.
He said that he was not defending the management of the airline, but was only doing objective criticism of what was on ground.
However, ATSSSAN in a swift reaction said it was not aware of such letters and advised staff of Aero not to collect such letters stating that before the workers are sacked there must be money to pay them.