About three weeks after British carrier Virgin Atlantic Airways sacked 20 Nigerian cabin crew members, aviation unions threatened yesterday to stop the airline from operating into the country.
The Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) at the weekend called on the Ministry of Aviation to intervene in the matter, describing the action as racist.
The unions said they decided to condemn the action of the airline’s management, which, they said, had no recourse to known international labour or aviation practices and standards.
A statement issued by Saint Omotaje and Olayinka Abioye on behalf of ATSSSAN and NUATE said: “We have studied the situation and have decided to call on the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Transportation and aviation agencies to intervene in this act of racism before it gets out of hand.
“It is now obvious that Virgin Atlantic does not have a workable conditions of service for its employees. Even where it exist, it discriminate against the Black race (Nigerians) aboard their airplane and yet they will not want to leave the Lagos-UK route for those that love us, Nigerians.”
The unions warned that aviation workers would mobilised through their various unions, associations and international affiliates in the coming days to seek the reversal of the action.
“We believe that Virgin Atlantic must respect their Community Social Responsibility (CSR) obligation owed Nigerians. If they cannot use our crew in their airline, then they have no business flying into or from our country where they make a lot of money,” the unions said.
Last week , Nigerian cabin crew members of the Virgin Atlantic Airways called on the Federal Government to come to their aid over alleged racial bias by the airline.
The cabin crew, through their lawyer, Chief Felix Fagbohungbe, SAN, wrote a letter protesting the planned termination of their jobs by the end of this month.
Reacting to the protest, the airline’s sales agent in Nigeria, Chief John Adebanjo, dismissed insinuations that the airline was planning to pull out of the country due to harsh operating environment.