Amidst move to shut down operations, Dana Air sack employees without salary

... In April that the Nigerian government had directed the management of the airline to suspend its commercial operations over safety concerns.

According to some of the affected individuals, Dana Air has fired several employees without paying their wage backlogs.

Though the airline’s management recently blamed it on an ongoing operational audit by regulatory authorities, affected employees claim it is part of the airline’s plan to shut down operations.

Platinum Times Nigeria reported in April that the Nigerian government had directed the management of the airline to suspend its commercial operations over safety concerns.

This directive was given by the Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo following an incident that happened at Murtala Muhammadu International Airport, Lagos State.

Platinum Times Nigeria had earlier reported how a commercial aircraft belonging to Dana Air skidded off the runway at the airport.

A photograph obtained by SaharaReporters captured the moment after the aircraft skidded off the runway.

The passengers were evacuated safely and no casualty was recorded from the incident. However, the incident raised concerns regarding the fitness of Dana Air aircraft for domestic commercial operations in the country.

However, some of the workers accused the Group Managing Director/CEO of Dana Group of Companies, Jacky Hathiramani of causing the issues by “micromanaging every department of the company”.

Regarding the issues, one of the dismissed workers said, “What happened in April about the runway excursion happened and rightly so, the authorities were able to find out the root cause of all these problems, and it still stems from the fact that he micromanages every department and things they are supposed to buy, he won’t buy them.

“Our warehouse for spares is practically empty because he doesn’t buy spares and he flies one of the oldest planes.

“That thing happened at the end of April and he didn’t say anything to the staff members. Five days later, they sent an email to staff members that he was putting all the staff on leave without pay.

“What is leave without pay? Leave without pay based on when we close findings on the NCAA (Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority) audit and all of that? Pay us our April salary, he refused.

“Days after, we started getting an email from the HR of the department telling all of us that our services were no longer required.”

Another source said, “We were like okay, every businessman reserves the right to disengage at any point they choose but there are rules that guide this.

“We have all these captured in our staff letter and even in law, if you are disengaging me, you pay me one month in lieu with notice. You would have also paid me salaries for the months I have worked.

“But now you owe me salaries. You are not paying me one month in lieu notice and you are asking me to leave. Aside from that, from inception since 2008, they have been deducting pensions from staff members but they have never remitted it. They don’t remit pension deductions, they don’t remit taxes.

“We are saying okay, you want to lay all of us off, fine. You have new investors and the new investors require that part of their condition will be to overhaul your staff and in your opinion, overhaul means sacking everybody, fine, pay us what is right to us.

“Pay us our benefits and all the deductions that you have made from our salaries for pensions and taxes and we will go. Is that a problem? It is your right to disengage us but it is our right to collect our benefits. Our people have worked in that airline for up to 15 years.”

The workers told SaharaReporters that they were planning to collectively engage a senior lawyer who is a human rights activist to file a legal action against the company.

One of the sources said, “What we are planning now is that we are coming together. Instead of going differently to meet lawyers, we are trying to engage a renowned Nigerian human rights activist who is also a SAN, but we want to do everything in a systematic way.

“On Tuesday, we are going to start a three-day rally in front of Dana’s head office because the information we have now is that they have started sending all the Indians out of the country.

“He is planning to shut down the business completely. We have to make sure that before he shuts down the business, he should pay us our money.

“They are trying to shut down completely because he is claiming that he doesn’t have funds to run the company except from investors and it is premised on that that he is asking people to go.

“We are opening handles on Instagram and X and we intend to record the rally. We intend to stream it live on social media.”

Efforts made by SaharaReporters to reach the Head of Corporate Communications for the airline, Kingsley Ezenwa, for comments failed.

However, in a recent statement in which he confirmed the disengagement of staff members, Ezenwa said the NCAA was conducting an audit of the airline after one of its aircraft skidded off the runway.

He described the decision to disengage staff as a temporary move by the airline pending the conclusion of the audit.

He said, “We regret to inform you that your service is no longer required effective May 9, 2024. This difficult decision was necessitated by the unfortunate suspension of our AOC/business operations by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and enormous challenges the suspension continues to occasion.

“We take this opportunity to thank you for your contribution to the organisation during your time here with us and wish you the best in your future endeavours.

“The audit, currently underway, is a collaborative effort between Dana Air and the authorities to ensure compliance with all necessary standards and regulations. Dana Air reaffirms its commitment to full cooperation with the authorities to facilitate a smooth and expedited resolution of the audit process.

“In light of the ongoing audit, Dana Air has made the decision to temporarily disengage some staff members pending the conclusion of the audit.

“This decision has been made to ensure efficient management of resources and to facilitate a thorough review of operational procedures.

“The Management of Dana Air extends its sincere appreciation to all staff members for their resilience and dedication during this period of uncertainty. It recognizes the difficulties that staff have had to endure and assures them that every effort is being made to resolve the situation promptly.

“Dana Air remains committed to providing updates and support to its staff throughout this process and While these challenges are being addressed, Dana Air has commenced talks with lessors and are currently engaging stakeholders on the progress made so far.”

The airline called for calm and understanding “from our very dedicated staff for their altruism and stakeholders.”

“The Management is working diligently to address any concerns and is preparing a restart plan that will ensure the safe and efficient resumption of operations.”

“Dana Air is confident that with the continued support of its staff and stakeholders, it will overcome these challenges and emerge stronger than ever,” the statement added.

(Credit: Sahara Reporters)

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