…As Expert says Non-passage of N8.612tr 2018 stalls economy
The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) Thursday embarked on a halfhearted strike against the Kenya Airways as early as 6am, barricading and shutting down the operations of the airline at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, before suspending the strike, moments later.
The Union said the gesture was to protest Kenya Airways recent sack of no fewer than 20 Nigerian employees. The Airline however said the sack came because the airline had out sourced the sales and commercial department thereby making them now redundant.
Mr Olayinka Abioye, NUATE’s General Secretary, confirmed the development to newsmen in Lagos on Thursday evening; saying that the strike was actually called off, following the intervention of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), sequel to a meeting between the union and the airline’s management had been scheduled for May 8.
Speaking during the protest, Abioye had accused Kenya Airways of anti-labour practices and breach of collective bargaining protocols.
He alleged that the airline had violated the extant labour laws by declaring the affected workers redundant and refusing to pay them their entitlements.
Abioye claimed the airline management effected the sack while parties were still on the negotiation table, and distributed the letters to 20 workers contrary to the fundamental principles of the Labour Act.
However, the airline, through a letter to the union, denied the allegations.
The letter, which was signed by Kenya Airways Acting Chief Human Resources Officer, Mrs Bridgette Imbuga, said the airline invited the union through a letter dated April 11 for a negotiation over the sacked workers.
Imbuga alleged that the union was unwilling to engage the airline management over the affected workers.
She explained that the affected employees were those engaged for sales and commercial services, which had now been contracted out.
The airline official argued that the airline had complied with the provisions of Sections 20 (1) (a) and (b) of the Labour Act, Cap 198, Laws of Nigeria, in declaring the affected workers redundant.
Imbuga, however, said that the airline would pay the affected workers one month salary each in lieu of notice and severance allowance at the rate of 23 days’ basic salary for every completed year of service.
She said the workers would also be paid for unutilised leave days that accrued as at the date they were relieved of their duties
In the meantime, not a few financial experts have experts have expressed worry over the delay in the passage of the 2018 Budget by the National Assembly.
They said that the continued delay in the passage of the bill by the National Assembly was affecting the recovery of the economy.
According to them, it was shameful that the N8.612 trillion Appropriation Bill, which was presented to a joint session of the National Assembly on November 7, 2017, was yet to be passed six months after.
To Dr. Samuel Nzekwe, a former President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), the delay created confusion within the system because there was no way the economy could move forward.
According to him, lack of cash in the system has also led to more poverty and suffering among the citizenry.
Nzekwe said: “There is no liquidity in the system and this has affected the nation’s capital market as the government is the biggest spender in any economy.
“People do not have sufficient funds to throw around by investing in the stock market as they used the little they have to keep the body and souls together.”
Besides, the one-time ANAN president said the delay was taking a debilitating toll of on local contractors. He urged the legislature and the executive to resolve their difference and pass the budget.
Nzekwe urged the MDAs yet to defend their votes in the budget proposals to do so in the interest of the country.
A former Director, Budgetary Department at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Titus Okunronmu, noted that the passage of the national budget had in the last three years suffered undue delays.
The former CBN director stressed that there was no country where budget passage is being delayed until May.
He said: “This development will obviously affect Medium Term Programmes as well as slow down economic development in the country.”
Okunronmu advised the Federal Government to put its house in order and do the right thing at the right time to pave the way for meaningful development.
Prof Uche Uwaleke, the Head of Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, said the delay was hampering full recovery of the economy.
Uwaleke said the blame game by the lawmakers and the Presidency was not good for economic growth and development.
According to him, blaming the MDAs for not providing the required information on their budgets showed that the lawmakers were yet to get the budget formulation process right.
Additional report from Nation