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Nigerians protest planned sacking by Virgin Atlantic airline

In the said protest letter dated November 17, 2015 and addressed to the Chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited, Sir Richard Branson, Fagbohungbe said the circumstances relating to the intended sacking of all the Nigerian members of the Virgin Atlantic cabin crew violated the provisions of the International Labour Conference Convention 158 and the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He described as spurious and untenable the excuse that the 21 Nigerians were being disengaged based on a research that Virgin Atlantic Airline no longer needed cultural expertise on the Lagos route.

Fagbohungbe said the airline was being unfair to Nigeria as a country by planning to lay off its Nigerian employees despite the fact that the Lagos-London route remains one of, if not, the most viable and profitable route for the airline.

He also said it was particularly disdainful that the planned sacking of the Nigerians was not with the courtesy of any reasonable severance package or options like the airline would normally do where citizens of other nations were involved.

He recalled that Virgin Atlantic had earlier shut down its call centre in Nigeria and moved it to South Africa thereby compounding the unemployment rate in Nigeria while creating additional jobs for South Africa, despite the profit being made from Nigeria.

He also recalled that the relocation of the call centre had imposed additional cost on Nigerians whose calls for inquiries were now routed to South Africa.

Fagbohungbe called on Branson to order the withdrawal of the sack notices served on the Nigerian members of Virgin Atlantic Airways cabin crew within seven days or the airline will face legal action.

He also charged the Minister of Aviation to urgently look into what he termed an “utter disdain and disregard for the feelings of Nigerians by Virgin Atlantic.”

“There is no gainsaying that our clients have been treated unfairly based on their race and dislike for them as Nigerians. Virgin Atlantic’s dislike for Nigerians is further confirmed by the closure of the airline’s call centre in Nigeria which necessitated the routing of calls by Nigerian passengers in respect of their flight bookings through South Africa, this has caused unemployment in Nigeria while creating additional jobs in South Africa.

“In the same vein, although, the monies used to pay the staff in South Africa are generated in Nigeria, routing calls through South Africa is an additional cost, which was deliberately imposed on Nigerian passengers by Virgin Atlantic without due regard for the pain and agony that Nigerian passengers suffer as a result of this action.

“The decision of Virgin Atlantic to terminate the employment of our clients is another classical example of the disdain and utter disregard for the feelings of Nigerians by Virgin Atlantic and our clients have decided to resist this oppressive conduct.

“Since there is no commercial or any other valid or justifiable reason for the decision of Virgin Atlantic to terminate the employment of our clients, we demand that Virgin Atlantic should immediately withdraw the notices of termination served on our clients through its agent – Aviation Logistics and Management Limited,” Fagbohungbe’s letter read in part.

Among others, he copied the Minister of Transport, the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation.
In the said protest letter dated November 17, 2015 and addressed to the Chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited, Sir Richard Branson, Fagbohungbe said the circumstances relating to the intended sacking of all the Nigerian members of the Virgin Atlantic cabin crew violated the provisions of the International Labour Conference Convention 158 and the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He described as spurious and untenable the excuse that the 21 Nigerians were being disengaged based on a research that Virgin Atlantic Airline no longer needed cultural expertise on the Lagos route.

Fagbohungbe said the airline was being unfair to Nigeria as a country by planning to lay off its Nigerian employees despite the fact that the Lagos-London route remains one of, if not, the most viable and profitable route for the airline.

He also said it was particularly disdainful that the planned sacking of the Nigerians was not with the courtesy of any reasonable severance package or options like the airline would normally do where citizens of other nations were involved.

He recalled that Virgin Atlantic had earlier shut down its call centre in Nigeria and moved it to South Africa thereby compounding the unemployment rate in Nigeria while creating additional jobs for South Africa, despite the profit being made from Nigeria.

He also recalled that the relocation of the call centre had imposed additional cost on Nigerians whose calls for inquiries were now routed to South Africa.

Fagbohungbe called on Branson to order the withdrawal of the sack notices served on the Nigerian members of Virgin Atlantic Airways cabin crew within seven days or the airline will face legal action.

He also charged the Minister of Aviation to urgently look into what he termed an “utter disdain and disregard for the feelings of Nigerians by Virgin Atlantic.”

“There is no gainsaying that our clients have been treated unfairly based on their race and dislike for them as Nigerians. Virgin Atlantic’s dislike for Nigerians is further confirmed by the closure of the airline’s call centre in Nigeria which necessitated the routing of calls by Nigerian passengers in respect of their flight bookings through South Africa, this has caused unemployment in Nigeria while creating additional jobs in South Africa.

“In the same vein, although, the monies used to pay the staff in South Africa are generated in Nigeria, routing calls through South Africa is an additional cost, which was deliberately imposed on Nigerian passengers by Virgin Atlantic without due regard for the pain and agony that Nigerian passengers suffer as a result of this action.

“The decision of Virgin Atlantic to terminate the employment of our clients is another classical example of the disdain and utter disregard for the feelings of Nigerians by Virgin Atlantic and our clients have decided to resist this oppressive conduct.

“Since there is no commercial or any other valid or justifiable reason for the decision of Virgin Atlantic to terminate the employment of our clients, we demand that Virgin Atlantic should immediately withdraw the notices of termination served on our clients through its agent – Aviation Logistics and Management Limited,” Fagbohungbe’s letter read in part.

Among others, he copied the Minister of Transport, the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation.
-Punch

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