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Turkish Airlines’ Sacking of 7 Nigerian Staff Over $600,000 Ticket Racketeering: A Fabricated Scandal.. NUATE

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NUATE's Executives and members

The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) has denied recent claims by Turkish Airlines of wrongfully defending seven of its dismissed workers despite an interlocutory injunction against the union’s picketing activities.

The union in a statement has firmly refuted these allegations, labeling them as unfounded and misleading. 

According to the union, Turkish Airlines’ claim of losing $600,000 is exaggerated. 

According to NUATE, the issue originated in April 2023 when the airline’s headquarters issued a sales restriction circular allowing only premium class ticket sales due to difficulties in repatriating proceeds to home countries because of Nigeria’s foreign exchange constraints. 

However, the airline’s website advertised lower fares than those permitted, causing confusion among customers who were directed to Nigerian offices when unable to pay online.

The then-sales manager it says, instructed staff to process tickets using Passenger Name Records (PNRs) obtained online to manage the situation. 

NUATE asserts that all ticket sales were accounted for, with no missing funds or improper gains by the staff.

It highlights that while the Nigerian employees were dismissed, the Turkish sales manager responsible for the directive was promoted, suggesting discriminatory practices.

NUATE also disputes Turkish Airlines’ assertion that the union participated fully in the disciplinary process, contending that the disciplinary committee, chaired by the General Manager who had issued the queries, was biased and did not conform to negotiated conditions of service. 

The union communicated its disagreement with the process and findings in writing.

Furthermore, NUATE criticizes the General Manager, Mr. Lokman Balkan, for creating a toxic work environment through intimidation, threats, and unfair practices, which have severely impacted staff morale and mental health. 

The union cites numerous instances of coercive actions, including unwarranted debit notes, withholding bonuses, and psychological harassment.

NUATE clarifies that the picketing exercise was led by the Nigeria Labour Congress, not NUATE, countering Turkish Airlines’ claims of disruption despite a court order.

The union believes the true motive behind the dismissals is to undermine union presence within the airline, a strategy it claims began in 2020 with the dismissal of the airline’s Branch Executive Council members.

NUATE therefore has declared Mr. Lokman Balkan persona non grata, advising aviation workers not to assist him at Nigerian airports, except for his departure from the country. 

The union vows to continue its struggle while minimizing impacts on other aviation businesses and warns of potential legal action for defamation against the dismissed staff.

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