Discriminatory Treatment Of Lagos based crew by VIRGIN ATLANTIC AIRWAYS….Our story by Nigerian cabin crew

Dear All,

The above subject matter refers.

We would like to use your esteemed medium to call the attention of all well meaning Nigerians and indeed the relevant authorities to a sad trend that has become commonplace within the Nigerian workforce as regards foreign business operators in the country and the poor treatment of its local content.

The case in view is the recent manner in which the Lagos based cabin crew of Virgin Atlantic have had their jobs terminated effective 30th of November via a letter dated on the 3rd of November without any prior hint or consultation and I dare say for no reasonable cause. A meeting was called by the management of Aviation Logistics Management Limited( ALML) and a Virgin Atlantic representative Alasdair Boyle( International Crew Manager)  on the 3rd of November 2015 where the decision was conveyed to the crew in attendance and a letter of termination handed down thereby foreclosing any option of dialogue,negotiations or consultations in the matter.

We would not like to bore you with what our sentiments as regards this for now. We however would crave your indulgence and patience in reading the communique below excerpted from Virgin Atlantic so you can make an informed decision on the TRUE nature of the motive driving this decision.
Please kindly note all the palliative measures and considerations offered to their UK counterparts and draw your conclusions. Also worthy of note is the fact that whilst the Lagos – London route remains one of Virgin Atlantic’s most profitable and they are happy to continue the business they are however making the Lagos based Crew the fall guys in order to keep their UK counterpart content. Some of these crew(Lagos based) have been with the airline from inception since 2001.
  We will be putting forward a rejoinder to this mail. In the meantime digest the following.

UPDATE FROM JILL BRADY (VIRGIN ATLANTIC)

As you know, we have been looking at our crew ranks, crew complement and onboard services as we consider how to improve outcomes for our customers whilst creating a financially resilient company that can achieve sustainable growth for the future. I appreciate that it has been a difficult time for all of you as we work through this and I thank you all for your continued patience and professionalism. Whilst trial flights continue throughout November and no decision has yet been made regarding crew complement, I can now share with you the outcomes of our review on ranks and our international crew bases.
As there’s a lot of information to share I have broken this down into segments. Those who are directly affected by this announcement have already received individual communications.

UK crew changes

Senior Cabin Crew role
When reviewing our structure and cost base, it became apparent that we have more crew ranks than many other airlines. Having four distinct ranks, rather than three or less, was an example of where we have additional layers and complexity within our organisation

After very careful consideration, we have decided to simplify our rank structure by having one rank of cabin crew that will work across all cabins and, as a result, from 31 March 2016 we will no longer have a Senior Cabin Crew (SCC) role.

To mitigate against job losses there will be several options made available to all UK based SCCs. These include an alternative Cabin Crew role, voluntary redundancy and part-time options. I have written to all of our SCCs separately to inform them of this decision and the options available to them.

Cabin Service Supervisor role 

We have decided that from 31 March 2016 on all B787 and A330 aircraft operating with one CSS, that this position will be manned by a UK based CSS. Whilst this means that there will be no required job losses in the UK CSS rank, there will unfortunately be an impact on our internationally based CSSs, who are being communicated with separately to inform them of this decision. 

Further mitigation of UK job losses
To further mitigate against job losses in our SCC rank, we are offering all UK based Flight Service Managers (FSMs) and CSSs the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy.

To make this operationally more manageable we will be offering people the choice to leave the business on one of two staggered dates; one in April 2016 and the other in October 2016. 

We are clearly going through an unprecedented level of change and I am conscious that our new rank structures may not please everyone. This voluntary redundancy opportunity will allow all onboard managers to make the right decision for them.

International changes

We have also been conducting a full review of our international crew ranks in Lagos, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Delhi.

Having four international bases, all with locally based cabin crew, was another example of additional layers, complexity and cost within our organisation. We are therefore making the following changes to restructure our international bases.

Lagos based crew
The primary purpose of having Lagos based cabin crew has been to provide cultural expertise. However, recent customer research has shown that this is no longer a requirement on the Lagos route. As a result and to reduce complexity in our operation we have decided that from 30 November 2015, we will be closing our Lagos crew base.

Our Lagos based crew have been met with and written to separately to inform them of this decision.

International crew roles 
Having carefully reviewed our customer service offering, we have decided that from 31 March 2016 we will be reducing the complement of international cabin crew on flights to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Delhi to two crew members. 

This decision, alongside the removal of the SCC rank, smaller B787 and A330 aircraft now making up the majority of our fleet and our decision to operate these aircraft using a UK based CSS, means that there will no longer be a business requirement for CSSs and SCCs in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Delhi from 31 March 2016.

All affected international crew members have been communicated with separately to inform them of this decision.  Whilst these changes to our international bases are an important step to drive simplicity and improve our operational costs, they have not been easy decisions. Those affected in our international bases have been dedicated and respected members of our team and I know that many of you will be upset that friends and colleagues will no longer be working with us. I want to assure you that we will ensure that they are supported through this difficult time.

We do recognise that our customers still require language expertise on our Shanghai, Delhi and Hong Kong routes and so internationally based crews in the Cabin Crew rank will therefore remain unaffected. 

I appreciate that this will be a difficult time for all affected UK and International crews and I would ask that you give them your full support and understanding over the coming weeks. I also recognise that there is a lot of information to absorb and I am sorry that many of you will receive this news whilst you are away from home or preparing for duty. I know this is difficult news and that some of you will now be considering the options available to you. Please make sure you speak to your Cabin Crew Managers and read the relevant sections of the intranet to get all of the information you need to make the right decision for you.

Finally, your dedication to our customers throughout this time has remained steadfast and I want to finish by assuring you that it is recognised and appreciated.

Best regards

Jill Brady
Executive Vice President – Customer

Footnote :

Inferring from the above, even within the context of internationally based crew comprising Lagos, Delhi, Hong Kong and Shanghai, only the Lagos crew have no option of keeping their jobs within the regular cabin crew rank. Whilst other international crew have till March 2016( 4 months from now) for the redundancy to be effective their Lagos counterpart have been given less than a month to stop work (30th of November 2015).

Delhi has been considered by Jill Brady to have a language barrier necessitating the continued use of local content crew from India however minimal but Lagos which has the same common lingua- English as Delhi has not been deemed worthy of continued use of local crew.

While Jill Brady was conscious to mitigate against job losses to the UK based crew she however did not consider their Lagos counterpart worthy of such consideration.They have been used while they were needed and unceremoniously dumped to save cost to the business and protect Job cuts to the UK crew even though Lagos as a route is one of the reasons Virgin Atlantic as a company can still make profit. Simply put, without the Lagos route Virgin Atlantic will be in the red.<

2 Comments

  1. While i commiserate with the Nigerian crew for the job losses our problem as a nation is that we have not been able to demonstrate capability in establishing parallel competing enterprise to take up our people and so the international companies do not value us they can disengage our people at will. This applies to every business where we ought to demonstrate by building a competing business but as a nation we have failed. Check out the performing company in telecommunications they are the foreigners now one of them is asked to pay some huge penalty which will eventually come down to staff rationalisation.

  2. This is a shocker. It’s understandable that all businesses go through adjustment from time to time, what I don’t get here is why Virgin has chosen to terminate the Lagos crew contract immediately and keep the other international crew on until March 2016. Did the Lagos crew not contribute to the profitability of the brand? We need to ask questions and understand why they have chosen to do this. We as a country need to start questioning organisations who come into our country and act recklessly with our own.

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