Unions set to paralysed aviation over wage demand, put airlines on notice

The various aviation unions have maintained that the two-day warning that could paralyse the aviation sector would take place on Monday and Tuesday.

Should the strike action go on, both domestic and international flights could be affected as the unions said there is no going back on the warning strike declared to demand improved wages for workers in the sector.

The unions had last week declared the warning strike on Monday and Tuesday following the expiration of a 14-day ultimatum earlier issued to the federal government through the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.

Aviation union leaders at a press conference at Lagos airport

The unions include the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN); the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), and the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP).

They are demanding, among others, that the planned demolition of aviation agencies’ headquarters in Lagos be halted.

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It would be recalled that the unions and the minister have been at loggerheads over his plan to demolish the Lagos offices of aviation agencies to build an Aerotropolis (Airport City).

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika had said there’s no going back on the planned demolition while the unions said there are no befitting offices in Abuja for thousands of aviation agencies’ staff currently in Lagos.

They are also protesting the non-implementation of minimum wage and other welfare demands in the aviation agencies including the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), and Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet).

In a joint statement issued by the unions and signed by Comrade Ocheme Aba (General Secretary of NUATE); Comrade Frances Akinjole (ATSSSAN); Comrade Abdulrazaq Saidu (ANAP) and Comrade Unoh Ofonime (NAAPE), they said,  “The ultimatum has since expired and nothing tangible has been yielded from our efforts and that of the Ministry of Aviation.”

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Aviation Metric learnt that the unions had already notified all the airlines of their planned action. An airline official who spoke with our correspondent yesterday said, “We don’t know what is going to happen but we know shutting down for two days is not going to be funny.”

In fact, it was gathered that the unions have heavily mobilised members across the airports to ensure total compliance.

In an internal notice to their members sighted by our correspondent, the unions said, “You all can see that the die is cast. Our backs are to the wall, and we can no longer move back. We have to now charge forward. But we must do so in unison.

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“We expect nothing less than a total shutdown of all airports in Nigeria. No outward operations of any kind. Though planes are allowed to land, such planes must be denied all offloading services. No take-off at all.

“The State Council Chairperson and his/her EXCO are in charge of activities at every airport, working under the guidance of National Officers where available.”

General Secretary of ANAP, Comrade Rasaq Saidu told journalists that there is no going back on the strike, adding no form of intervention from any quarters can stop the unions as they have exhausted all avenues of dialogue.

Wole Shadare