Aviation workers issue seven-day ultimatum ahead of indefinite strike

Aviation workers’ unions, yesterday, warned of an impending indefinite strike action should the authorities fail to resolve the nagging non-implementation of Condition of Service (CoS), and other welfare-related issues in the next seven days.

The unionists, at the end of their two-day warning strike on Tuesday, vowed to shut down the airspace to jolt the attention of the current administration.

While the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has since kept mum on the development and remained seemingly unperturbed by the disruptions, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has been engaging in negotiation with the aggrieved workers.

On the day-two of the warning strike yesterday, offices of aviation agencies remained shut nationwide as airports witnessed mild disruptions and low patronage of travellers.

In Lagos, nooks and crannies of the domestic terminals witnessed a heavy presence of security operatives, forcing the unionists to lead a procession to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) corridors.

Recall that the coalition of aviation workers’ unions made up of members of 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), the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP), and Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation Civil Service Technical and Recreation Services Employees (AUPCTRE), recently bemoaned the non-implementation of the CoS about seven years after it was negotiated with the workers.

They also rued the non-implementation of minimum wage consequential adjustments and arrears for the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet) since 2019, and the planned demolition exercise of all the agency buildings in Lagos by the Minister of Aviation for an airport city project, but without consideration for workers that will be displaced. ANAP Scribe, Abdulrarak Saidu, expressed disappointment that the aviation workers had been left hanging in the last eight years.

“For eight years, the conditions of service were not implemented. This is because Sirika has usurped functions of the Governing Boards of aviation agencies to himself. So, there is no check and balance.

“He also wants to pull down buildings in the sector for a roadmap that was not approved for Lagos. The one approved in Abuja for the aerotropolis, nothing has happened there, and he wants to turn his policy into law. This warming strike is the beginning. If nothing is done after seven days, then we will go on indefinite strike, and shut down everywhere,” Saidu said.

However, the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Capt. Musa Nuhu, has urged the workers’ unions to sheath their swords, assuring that their demands would be met.

Nuhu, on Sunday, conveyed meetings with the union members, the Salary and Wages Commission, along with heads of aviation agencies, and their Heads of Finance Departments. Another meeting was slated for late yesterday.

The meeting with the Salaries and Wages Commission is for the examination of their various account books to determine whether or not the increases in salaries being demanded could be accommodated in their various Internally Generated Revenues (IGRs).

The outcome of this meeting will be forwarded to the Head of Service of the Federation for consideration and approval, he said. He also pleaded for more time and understanding of the Union.

The General Secretary of AUPCTRE, Sikiru Waheed, told reporters in Abuja that the warning strike was to warn the traveling public to make other plans as they intend to shut down the airports should their demands go unmet.

Waheed explained that the controversial CoS, and the payment of minimum wage were the main issues on the ground, adding that since 2009, the consequential allowance had been approved by the federal government. However, they are yet to be implemented in the sector.

“If the CoS to enhance the service is not forthcoming, how do you expect people to feel when we are all going to the same market with everyone? Our purchasing power has gone, and it has become difficult for the aviation industry to work in line with the economic situation of the country,” Waheed said.