Baring any unforeseen circumstances, airports across Nigeria will be shut down today as aviation unions commence a two-day warning strike over non-release of their reviewed Condition of Service negotiated with four aviation agencies over seven years in addition to the planned demolition of Lagos offices of some agencies.
Last week, the Secretary Generals of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Ocheme Aba, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Frances Akinjole, Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP), AbdulRasaq Saidu, Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation Civil Service Technical and Recreation Services Employees (AUPCTRE), Sikiru Wahab and the Deputy General Secretary of National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) Umoh Ofonime, signed a notice for the two-day strike, saying they had earlier issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika on the same issue since February 7, 2023 to no avail.
The unions warned that failure to meet their demands after the two day warning strike, will be followed by an indefinite strike.
The Unions grouse included Non-implementation of minimum wage consequential adjustments and arrears for the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet) since 2019, refusal of the Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, (NSIWC) and Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, (OHCSF) to release the reviewed Condition of Service of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA) Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) and Nigerian Meteorological Agency, (NiMeT) as negotiated betwee as duly conveyed by the Federal Ministry of Aviation since upwards of nine years.
However, Daily Sun was reliably informed that on Sunday, April 16, the heads of the agencies held a zoom meeting with the national leaders of the unions and pleaded with them to convince their members to shelve the strike, pointing out the devastating impact an strike action will have on the industry. They also promised to ensure that the demands of the unions are met, with the Director General of NiMet, Mansur Matazu, assuring that the structural adjustment will take effect when staff receive their April salaries.
At the emergency meeting hosted by the DG of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, which had human resource directors of the agencies present and also the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Aviation, the union leaders expressed disappointment that the promises made over a year ago after negotiations between the unions and the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, were not kept.
When the issue of the planned demolition of the NCAA, FAAN and NAMA offices in Lagos, came up, the representative of Ministry of Aviation assured that no demolition would take place until the relocation allowance is paid to every affected staff, assuring that no worker would be made redundant.
Airlines have also been very apprehensive of the effect the strike would have on their operations as many of them have been frantically reaching out to the union leaders for a resolution.
Daily Sun reached out to Ola Banji, the spokesperson of Arik Air on how the airline is preparing for the industrial action. He said they are still monitoring the situation and that “when they reach the bridge, they will cross it.”