PARLEY NAHCo has called for a meeting to iron out the grey areas for possible reconciliation
Some ex-workers of Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO) have given account of their trauma and untold hardship they have grappled with to receive their severance pay since they were laid off under questionable circumstances more than 15 years after privatisation of the company.
For 15 years, many of them could not get their entitlements before they died, with many lamenting the irregularities and alleged under-hand dealings by the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) and Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD). They faulted claims by the aviation ground handling firm that it had paid N1.12 billion to the ex-workers since the privatisation of the company.
They challenged the firm to open its books for scrutiny to show the people that were paid and how it was disbursed, lamenting that they have lost a number of their members to illnesses. A former station manager of the company in Port-Harcourt, Godwin Akotor, died and was buried on July 24th, 2020.
General Secretary of the former NAHCO staff forum, Alademomi Sanmi, who spoke to New Telegraph, expressed shock over the disbursement of paltry sum of between N29, 000 and N32, 000 as severance packages to many of the ex-workers and wondered how they arrived at such ‘ridiculous computation’ for people who spent between 15 and 20 years and who were on the same grade level before the privatisation of the firm in 2005. “What brought about our suspicion is this.
NAHCO said they paid us N1.12 billion when we were leaving. The question we are now asking is how did you disburse this money to the people? We knew it was not true that they paid us that money. What happened was that some people diverted that money.
NAHCO just want to claim money that is not theirs,” he said. The sharp disparity in payments cut across all cadres with some receiving N290, N50, 000 on the same grade level, while workers on the fourth batch list are yet to receive their entitlements, leading to deaths and other health challenges.
Meanwhile, the management of the firm had scheduled a meeting with representatives of the workers to resolve the matter that has pitched the ex-workers against the company.
A top official, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said a meeting would be held to discuss the matter and possibly proffer solution to the impasse.
She said the disagreement did not do any of the parties any good rather than look for amicable resolution, stressing that they were justified to question the anomalies from PTAD, denying that NAHCo had anything to do with the situation.
“NAHCo has called them for a meeting. I think the meeting will be held today. That was one of the recommendations that there should be a meeting. We have told them to exercise patience in resolving this matter.
NAHCo is willing to help. As at yesterday, I knew NAHCo was willing to hold a meeting with the representatives of the ex-workers,” she noted.
But Sanmi fired back, alleging that NAHCo took delight in their plight by not doing enough with pension fund approved by the government, which the NAHCo top chief said had nothing to do with them but PTAD.
According to Sanmi, “we are deep ly worried at the way and manner the PTAD is paying the said one off pension payment they promised our members. PTAD is paying in piece meals and this calls for great concerns.
“People have told us that this is just a tactics to weaken our resolve. We started suspecting that it could be so because if you paid the first batch with the list, one hour after that, the list for the second batch came.
We suspected that something was fishy. We have been asking this question, what modalities are they using for payment? There is no answer to that question. How many people are the actual beneficiaries of these payments? There was no answer.
What is accruable to each individual? There was no answer. What is the total amount involved in this exercise and to every ex staff ? The answers were not provided. Why is NAHCO’s case different?
“Those people that have received vary. People who are on the same level, some got N190, 000, some got N212, 000 and they are on the same level. Some got N29, 000. Some who have worked for 15 years got N29, 000, some got N32, 000. That is ridiculous.
You paid somebody N29, 000 severance package; an amount you were not paying him when he was in service. If you are calculating what he should get as pay off, it certainly cannot be N29, 000 or N32, 000. “That is what led to our agitation. When SAHCOL was paid immediately, people that left NAHCO to join SAHCOL and spent one year got not less than N200, 000.
This was somebody that just left NAHCOL to go and join SAHCOL got that much not to talk of somebody that had spent five years. Even baggage handlers in NAHCO do not take N29, 000 as monthly salary.
If that person had spent five years before the privatization, they cannot pay him N29, 000 as one off payment, not as pension that you will be coming back for.
We felt that there was a foul play by PTAD in collusion with NAHCO to take what does not belong to them.”