AVIATION unions have petitioned Minister of Aviation, Senate and House Committee on Aviation, Director General Bureau of Public Enterprises over refusal of the Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO PLC) to pay over N1.8bn redundancy benefits to 982 ex-worker 12 years after the company was privatized under the guidance of the BPE.
The petition signed by National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) General Secretary, Comrade Ocheme Aba and Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Deputy General Secretary , Comrade Frances Akinjole has since elicited a response from both the aviation ministry and House of Reps.
The unions said that the BPE had set up a committee to resolve the lingering issue of payment of the redundancies of which SAHCO was part and a report was turned in in February 2020 and all parties involved agreed on a negotiated settlement which SAHCO and BPE were responsible for the payment but have not done so since then.
The letter to the management of SAHCO read in part,”Importantly, the committee members which consisted all parties to the issue, agreed on a negotiated settlement sum for the redundancy. The committee also agreed that the BPE and SAHCO shall be responsible for the payment.
“Unfortunately, your management and the BPE has since February 2020 treated this very crucial matter affecting the lives of millions of hapless Nigerians with utmost levity. This is in spite of the dispassionate effort by the Honorable Minister of Aviation through his letter to the BPE on the need to effect the payments.
The Ministry of Aviation on June 29, 2021 in a letter signed by D.D Muhammed, Director (Human Resource Management) for the Minister wrote to the BPE on the letter it received on the plight of the ex-SAHCO workers, copying for attention, the Acting Director,Post Transaction Management, Larai Bode and asking for updates on the non-payment of redundancy benefits to the 982 ex-workers of the defunct SAHCOL as agreed by the multi-agency committee constituted by the BPE in November 2019.
The Ministry also demanded modalities, time frame which the payment may commence and conclude stressing that it became imperative based on the series of correspondences received on the subject and threats by the ex-workers and unions as they have become agitated and are threatening industrial action on SAHCO and other aviation businesses.
Similarly,the House Committee on Aviation have equally received the petition and have written to the management of SAHCO requesting for the comprehensive brief on issues raised by the two unions in their petition as well as the current state of affairs regarding payment,total number of ex-workers affected,total amount due, timeline for payment and modalities for the exercise.
The House through its clerk also informed the SAHCO management that it may be invite to clarifies issues after it submits the above requests.
Recall that SAHCO was privatized in 2009, and handed over to the Sifax Group by the Federal Government of Nigeria, after privatization in which Sifax Group came first as the preferred bidder with the sum of N5.52 billion Naira.