Unions in the Nigerian aviation industry have accused the Managing Director of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc, Idris Yakubu, of unilaterally increasing his monthly salary without following due process.

The unions also alleged that since Yakubu came on board late last year, 90 per cent of workers whose appointments he approved were from his region of the country, and most of his tribesmen were elevated into managerial positions at the expense of more qualified personnel.

The unions, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), claimed that his monthly take-home is triple what his predecessor in office earned.

The unions also accused him of creating positions and departments that were not in the organogram of the company.

General Secretary of NUATE, Comrade Olayinka Abioye, who spoke when he led members of the unions to the headquarters of NAHCO at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos today, said they were unhappy with the development, despite many calls on the management to review the conditions of service of the workers, which he said had expired more than four years ago.

Abioye emphasised that for several months, the proposal for the conditions of service review had not been addressed, neither had they gotten any response from the current management, while Yakubu increased his monthly package without recourse to the Board of Directors.

Comrade Abioye alleged further that so much money was being shared by the top management staff of the company at the expense of those generating the revenue for the ground handling organisation.

He said: “The conditions of service for NAHCO’s workers has to be reviewed or completed in the next 14 days, failing which there will be closure of operations here.

“In all sincerity, there has been no dialogue. We have had only one meeting since we submitted our conditions of service proposal to them, and that one meeting was just as it was forced on them, because they never even wanted to talk to the unions. It was because we told them there would be industrial crisis in NAHCO, that was why we were hurriedly invited to that meeting.”

Abioye accused the management of insensitivity to the plight and well-being of workers, stressing that when the former Managing Director, Mr Norbert Bielderman, left and was replaced with a Nigerian, the unions thought he would correct all the perceived injustice in the system, but were surprised at the high level of impunity of the current management led by Yakubu.

He also said the promotion of staff of the company had been irregular, as outsiders without industry experience were employed to take managerial positions.

“In this company that is said not to be making any profit, the humongous salary this MD is taking home will shock you. The humongous amount of money is triple of what the immediate past MD was taking home.

“He has disrupted and bastardised the organogram by bringing in people from outside to come and take positions that did not even exist on the structure. He left from the bank, a brilliant man for that matter, a gentleman, and he came in here and started playing politics of tribe.

“He started gathering people from his tribe, instigating and inciting them even against the workers and the unions. We feel very, very sad about this development.”

Also speaking, the Deputy National President, ATSSSAN, Comrade Emmanuel Jaja, insisted that if the company was making so much profit, the workers should benefit.

He said the presence of the union leaders and members at the NAHCO headquarters was to notify the management of the company of what the unions intended to do if the staff welfare was not addressed within the next 14 days.

When contacted, Head of Public Affairs, NAHCO aviance, Tayo Ajakaiye, said the management was still in talks with the unions on issues raised.

“It is an ongoing process. There might be delay; definitely it’s something that will be done.”

On the employment of people into managerial cadre, Ajakaiye explained those employed were working directly with the MD, because it was part of the contract signed with him.

“The MD contract allows him to also employ some people to work with him; these are the things contained in the contract. It’s like you employ a coach for the Super Eagles and you are given the target and of course, he would need two or three people to work with him to achieve that target. Those are the facts and terms of the contract which he agreed to.”

Ajakaiye, however, declared that no one was feeding fat on the company’s money.

During the congress at the headquarters of NAHCO, the gate was blocked with a car to prevent other cars from going in, while they chanted solitary songs.

All the leaders of the unions in the various aviation agencies were also in attendance.

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