Nigerian cabin crew members working with Virgin Atlantic airline have accused the airline of racial discrimination in the proposed termination of appointment of some staff.
The Nigerian crew members, numbering 21, in a letter through their lawyer, Chief Felix Fagbohungbe, SAN, said the proposed sack by the management of the airline was taking effect at the end of November.
In the said protest letter, dated November 17, 2015, and addressed to the Chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited, Sir Richard Branson, they stated that the circumstances relating to the proposed sacking of all the indigenous cabin crew members violated the provisions of the International Labour Conference Convention 158 and the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
They also described as spurious and untenable the reasons for their proposed disengagement which Virgin said was based on a research that it no longer needed cultural expertise on the Lagos route.
The cabin crew members’ lawyer, Fagbohungbe, SAN, 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 for the airline.
He added that, it was particularly disdainful that the planned sacking of his clients 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.
Fagboungbe, SAN, 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.
He therefore, 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, as well as the Minister of Transport, the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the Chairman, and Senate Committee on Aviation, to urgently look into what he termed an “utter disdain and disregard for the feelings of Nigerians by Virgin Atlantic.”
Parts of Fagboungbe’s letter to the Virgin Atlantic Airline boss reads; “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.”

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