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Over 500 Dana Air staff protest mass sacking, non-payment of salaries

No fewer than 500 staff of Dana Air have blocked the entrance of the company in Oshodi, Lagos to protest their sacking and non-salary payment.

Dana aircraft was suspended by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) after its aircraft was involved in a runway skidding incident last month.

NCAA said it had initiated an in-house compliance assessment of the occurrence taking into account Dana’s track records in related occurrences.

Barely two weeks after the suspension of Dana Air operations, the aviation company laid off its staff based on claims that their disengagement was in respect of the ongoing audit, by the aviation regulators.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the staff, during a protest in front of the company, threatened to explore every mechanism to fight what they called “an injustice.”

The staff members who were armed with placards with inscriptions such as; ‘Give us our money’, ‘A airline owing it staff can’t be safe’, and ‘Systematic thieving’, among others, stated that aside from being unjustly sacked, the airline has refused to pay workers contributory pension as well as their April salary among other entitlements.

Speaking with journalists at the protest ground, the Training Manager of the airline, Magdalene Onyeukwu, noted that the staff members will not relent until the management pays all that is owed.

Onyeukwe, who claimed to have worked with Dana for 15 years, stated that she got her sack letter through a WhatsApp message.

She said, “I have been with Dana since 2008; I was part of those who participated in the demo flight that gave Dana its licence; even when there were challenges when salaries were not paid, we remained committed until this issue of runway incursions, which is normal.

“But before we knew it, they started sending us WhatsApp messages saying our services are no longer needed. Who does that? What about our gratuity, pension and even our April salary? This is  not possible after 15 years of service?”

Also speaking at the protest ground, an Aviation security supervisor, Eze Chidebere, also complained about the refusal of the company to pay its sacked staff, stressing that this development has started affecting the well-being of staff families, appealing to the management of Dana to urgently pay what is due “even if they won’t be reabsorbed.”

Chidebere further accused Dana of fraudulently deducting staffers’ contributing pensions but refusing to pay the same into their pension accounts.

He said, “We are here to demand our rights, after serving Dana Airlines for several years, they suddenly sacked us all saying that our services are no longer required. But it is on record that Dana airline flew till April before it had an incursion and as I am talking to you, April’s salary has not been paid and my children are at home because I have not been able to pay their fees.

“So many people are in our outstation and couldn’t make it here today because of logistics. If not, this place would have been physically filled by our over 500 staff members because our people are seriously angry.

“Also, if an organisation is sacking its staff, it should pay a one-month salary in lieu because it is also expected that staff should give a one-month notice to the organisation before leaving, but they refused to honour the same rule.

“Dana Airlines has been deducting our money but hasn’t remitted the same to our pension account. This, among others, is our reason for begging Dana to immediately pay us to avert a legal battle.”

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