Nigerians petition Ghana over non-payment of benefits to airline workers

Nigerian aviation workers are spoiling for a face-off with the Ghanaian authorities over non-payment of severance benefits to 15 Nigerians who worked with the defunct Ghana Airways.

While Nigeria Airways was liquidated in 2003, Ghana Airways went under in 2005.

Nigerian aviation workers, under the aegis of National Union of Air Traffic Employees (NUATE), yesterday claimed that the Nigerian workers who served in the Lagos office of the airline were paid only 14 per cent of their severance benefits, when their other counterparts had been fully paid-off.

The Ghanian government had in 2005 stopped the operations of Ghana Airways following poor performance, which led to huge loss in resources.

In a letter signed by NUATE Deputy Secretary and addressed to Official Liquidator, Registrar-General’s Office in Accra , Ghana , the workers demanded the immediate payment of the remaining 86 per cent of the severance benefit due to the workers.

“We write in respect of the above mentioned issue and once again would like to very strongly express our grave disappointment at the way and manner the issue is being handled by all the authorities concerned on the matter so far.

“More saddening is the pittance payment (14 per cent) so far made to our Nigerian workers who have worked all their useful life for an airline that served you and many in the world but have to lose the job unexpectedly and can still not been able to collect their entitlements for about four years now.

“We have it on good record that some of the income generated with the efforts of these hard working Nigerians in the Lagos office of the Ghana Airways during its operations in our country was used to put up what we now have as the Ghana High Commission office in Abuja, our Federal Capital.

“We therefore wonder why this same staff would have to be so exposed to untold hardship with members of their families over payment of their well-deserved benefits for such a long time,” the letter read.

NUATE lamented that series of dialogues held with relevant Ghanian authorities, including the Ghana High Commission in Nigeria had not yielded any meaningful fruit.

According to Motajo, full payment of severance benefits to these staff is in consonance with Section 20 of the Nigerian Labour Decree now Act, no 21, of 1974, as reflected under Article 15 of the Terms and Conditions of Service for Ghana Airways Corporation, Local Staff in Nigeria, 1991 and subsequent Amendments up to December 9, 1999.

“We are therefore more disturbed that even when it is now confirmed that all our Ghanaian counterparts including others world wide have been paid their full benefits, the Nigerian staff were only paid 14 per cent of their entitlements.

“This, to us, is a clear act of discrimination and insensitivity to the plight of those innocent hard working Nigerian staff members of the airline from whom some have since lost their lives due to minor illnesses that could have been easily attended to, but for lack of fund,” he said.

The union which said it could no longer “allow this callous and inhuman act of the (self acclaimed West African brother country)” Ghana Government to our Nigerian members, said it may soon call out its members for action if steps are not taken to urgently pay the affected workers.

Motajo, however, said that his union would always encourage constructive dialogue in the resolution of matters as shown in past approaches in the matter since 2005, noting that NUATE officials would make themselves ready for discussions on ways to effect the payment.

 Source: The Guardian

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