Barely two months after the Federal Government reopened domestic flights operation, and a week after international flights resumed, Aviation unions shut down Arik Air operations over the alleged failure to pay salaries of workers dating seven months, and other anti-labour practices.
This development comes after Arik Air had called for the intervention of the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige in the event of a planned strike by the air transport’s employees. In a letter dated September 11, chief executive officer of Arik Air Limited, Roy Ilegbodo stated that the minister’s intervention is needed to enhance understanding and cooperation among workers’ unions.
In the letter, he notified the minister of the impending planned strike action of the air transport workers by the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) which began today, Monday, September 14. Hadi Sirika, the minister of aviation, and Musa Shuaibu Nahu, director-general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), were also copied in the letter.
Ilegbodo faulted the planned strike action, saying, “We strongly believe that the threat of strike action without an exhaustive use of the various channels of engagement, discussion, consensus and understanding is faulty and unlikely to yield the best outcomes for staff, the company and its faithful passengers.
“It is, in fact, an abuse of the position of union leadership as the issues in dispute cannot pass the test of fairness and only affect, in the short term, less than 20 staff out of a workforce of over 1600.”
Ilegbodo said the airline’s management has met with several staff groups to resolve issues regarding conditions of service. He emphasized that the only area of disagreement between both parties is the request by the unions for a terminal benefit scheme over and above the requirements of the pension act. The CEO stated the unions’ demand will result in an unsustainable standard in the aviation industry.