The Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) has accused the ground handling company, Skyway Aviation Handling Company of Nigeria, Ltd. (SAHCOL) of committing “wilful infractions” against the union.

Some members of the union have also accused the company of failing to pay workers their five years' severance packages, an arrangement that was agreed to before the company was handed over to Sifax Group in 2009.

SAHCOL was a department in the defunct national airline, Nigeria Airways, before the airline was liquidated in 2004, but SAHCOL continued to operate as a separate entity until it was privatized to Sifax Group in 2009 by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).

ATSSSAN, in a petition to the BPE, dated July 31, 2017 and titled “Appeal to redress wilful infractions by SAHCOL,” said that the company had contravened the BPE (Privatization and Commercialization) Act, 1999.

The petition was signed by Deputy General Secretary, ATSSSAN, Frances Akinjole.

According to the petition, which was made available to our correspondent, ATSSSAN ought to have been enlisted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in 2014, which was five years after its privatization, according to the BPE Act, but wondered why the management was yet to take the step eight years later.

The petition purported that eight years after privatization, the new owners of the major ground handling company had yet to pay the workers the five years’ severance packages as agreed with the union before being handed over to Sifax Group.

A source close to the company confided in our correspondent that officials of the BPE had, in the past two years, been visiting SAHCOL on its plan towards enlistment on the NSE.

However, the source said that a few weeks ago, the Director General of BPE, Alex Okoh, visited the company on the issue for an “on-the-spot assessment,” but the outcome of the meeting with the management was not made public.

Our correspondent learned that the union also accused the management of SAHCOL of denying the workers their statutory 10 percent equity shareholding in the organization, which contravenes the Public Enterprise Act of 1999.

The petition read in part: “We may recall that SAHCOL was privatized in 2009 pursuant to the Public Enterprises Act 1999. It is appalling that several years after, SAHCOL still finds it comfortable to deny staff of the company their statutory 10 percent equity shareholding in the company despite the immense sacrifices the workers continue to make for the success of the organization.

“The infraction is contrary to section 5(3) of the Public Enterprises Act 1999, which provides that: ‘no less than 10 percent of the shares to be offered for sale to Nigerians shall be reserved for the staff of the public enterprises to be privatized and the shares shall be held in the trust by the public enterprises for its employees.’”

The union also recalled that the BPE was a party to an agreement reached with SAHCOL on August 22, 2007 on the mode of divestiture of the federal government of Nigeria from the entity.

The petition urged the bureau to immediately intervene on the issue, warning that it might be compelled to resort to self-help to address the issue.

Basil Agboarumi, the spokesman for SAHCOL, could not be reached for comments on the issue.


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