Why we sacked Nigerian staff – Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines has explained why it sacked Nigerian staff in response to the ongoing picketing of the airline.

Days after the picketing by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the airline broke silence on Thursday, accusing the staff of engaging in ticket racketeering to the tune of $600,000 in 2023, thereby causing it serious financial losses within the period.

Daily Trust reports that the picketing of the operations of Turkish Airlines disrupted its operations with over 300 passengers of the airline stranded at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA).

The organised labour, had vowed to disrupt the operations of the airline for three days, starting from Tuesday, describing the sack of the staff as unjustified.

The airline in a statement by its Media Relations Department stated that the sacked workers, after going through disciplinary process, were found wanting of corrupt practices against the airline.

It stated that the leadership of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) may be taking sides with the sacked workers unjustly.

The airline regretted that despite the involvement of the union in the disciplinary committee, which indicted the seven workers and led to the advice to resign from its establishment, the unions refused to sign off on disciplinary action to the erring members of staff.

The airline explained that NUATE was invited and acted as a member of the disciplinary committee against the erring employees, where it was established, after the presentation of evidence detailing the employees’ wrongdoings, that they were liable for gross misconduct and ought to be dismissed.

The statement hinted that after the conclusion of the disciplinary proceedings, the airline gave the employees the option to resign voluntarily in which three out of the seven indicted staff complied with.

It however, said that four out of the seven staff who were indicted and had initially showed interest in resigning from the employment of the airline, later declined to do so.

According to the airline, the union despite the clear and evidence of wrongdoing against it by the sacked staff, still threatened to paralyse its operations in Nigeria by way of industrial action if the former employees were not reinstated.

The airline added: “Premised on the threat of industrial action issued by NUATE by notices dated February 28, 2024 and March 25, 2024, the airline instituted proceedings in Suit No.: NICN/LA/24/2024 – Turkish Airlines Incorporated v The Registered Trustees of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), seeking to determine the legality of the union’s (threatened) actions, among other things.

“After the institution of this suit at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) and after service had been effected on the union on February 9, 2024 and while motions for injunction were pending before the court, NUATE proceeded to execute their threats to picket.”

According to the airline, on March 26, 2024, NUATE members for two hours, barricaded its check-in stations at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), thereby preventing its passengers from boarding to their various destinations.

The airline explained that it took the intervention of the airport authorities to prevent NUATE from causing a complete breakdown of law and order at the airport on the said day.

Besides, the airline emphasised that the action of the union prompted NICN to once again issue formal notices of injunction restraining NUATE and its affiliates from conducting any industrial action in such a way as to disrupt its business on April 30, 2024.

Turkish Airlines reiterated that since it commenced flight services to Lagos in 2006, it had continued to put the interest of its passengers and employees first.

It insisted that it had always encouraged its employees to participate in any union of their choice, while also seeking harmonious working relationship with all governmental and non-governmental bodies in the country.

Turkish Airlines however declared that it had no tolerance for illegal and wrongful actions and emphasised that it would take similar action against such practices in the future no matter who was involved.

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