By Lawani Mikairu
lagos—Aero Contractors yesterday said it has sacked 60 per cent of its total workforce due to poor financial state of the airline.
However, the effected workers will be paid their pension and gratuity. The management of the airline was taken over last year by Asset Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON, as a result of the heavy indebtedness of the airline to the company.
But, aviation unions yesterday reacted angrily to the sack of Aero Contractors workers saying they will not accept the reasons advanced by the airline for the retrenchment exercise.
Early this year, a new Managing Director, Captain Ado Sanusi was appointed by AMCON after the former Managing Director, Captain Akin Akinkuotu was appointed the Managing Director of Nigeria Airspace Management Agency, NAMA . The decision to reduce staff strength, according to AMCON, will immediately reduce the whooping operational cost, which has been stifling the airline and enable the management bring in more aircraft through savings from overheads
A statement from the airline yesterday said: “Aero Contractors of Nigeria Limited during the week issued letters of redundancy, which affected about 60 per cent of its total workforce. The airline had been grappling with huge and unrealistic personnel cost as well as other operational challenges worsened by lack of enough aircraft to keep all the workers meaningfully engaged”.
“The issuance of notification of redundancy is a business decision that will ensure Aero’s survival. The current situation where over a thousand people are basically not engaged due to lack of serviceable aircraft is not sustainable for the airline. The huge monthly salary associated with a bloated workforce will eventually kill the airline, which is not the intention of the current government.Aero Contractors currently has aircraft-to-employee ratio of 1:500, which analysts believe is perhaps the worse in the history of global airline industry.
“Government’s intervention in Aero was to save it from total collapse therefore, all steps such as this (issuance of redundancy letters) to ensure its survival must be put into consideration to save the airline.
Aviation unions set for showdown
Meantime, aviation unions yesterday reacted angrily to the sack of Aero Contractors workers saying they will not accept the reasons advanced by the airline for the retrenchment of the workers.
The President of Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ATSSSAN,Mr Ahmadu Ilitrus said he was not aware of the purported redundancy notice to workers and advised workers not to collect any letter from the management of Aero airline.
He added that a meeting to discuss the unions’ next line of action has been fixed for today.
The statement however added that those in Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) and other essential staff in critical departments will not be affected by the notification. The management has also ensured that the affected workers will be able to access their full gratuity as well as a part of their pension just to immediately cushion the effect of the development. They also stand a chance of being recalled as soon as Aero increases the number of aircraft in its fleet in the near future.
According to the ATSSSAN president; “We are not against redundancy but what we are saying is that before you sack them, there must be money to pay them and I know Aero does not have the money to pay them”
He cautioned management of Aero Contractors not to give room for industrial unrest warning that money due to “all affected workers must be ready at the point of the collection of their letters”.