23 November 2012

Nigeria: Stakeholders Condemn Impasse Between Workers Unions, Aviation Minister

Photo: This Day
Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah

Stakeholders and former labour leaders in the aviation industry have said that the current impasse between the Air Transport Service Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), and Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, and aviation parastatals would adversely affect the industry if urgent action was not taken towards reconciliation.

The two unions recently abused the minister, in a press conference, while protesting the appointment made in the parastatals and the transfer directive given to the president of ATSSSAN, an action that prompted the management of the agencies to instruct the workers of some of the agencies to withdraw from union membership.

In a statement signed by Chairman of Aviation Labour, Elder Statesmen, Itua Imonitie; Secretary, Sheri Kyari; and Publicity Secretary, Aba Ocheme, the stakeholders warned that the impasse was capable of degenerating into a major crisis.

"Considering that aviation is a very sensitive industry, particularly at this time that the industry is yet to fully recover from the recent air crashes. We are of the view that another major crisis would be too soon, and may burst the balloon. Therefore, it is our considered opinion that the looming crisis must be avoided by all means.

"In the above regard, our group feels compelled to intervene in the impasse with a view to assisting the parties to resolve their misunderstanding, so as to pave way for their working in partnership for the needed development in aviation."

The elders therefore appealed to the union leaders and the minister of aviation to seize all recriminatory actions that may exacerbate the existing animosity and find ways to chart a peaceful course.

"This passionate appeal is made with the clear understanding that a breathing space is needed to allow the process of mediation to bear fruit for the good of the industry.

"Whereas we are aware of our status, we are hopeful that the parties know that their investment of trust in us will definitely yield positive returns. We therefore crave the understanding of both parties by their support and cooperation in this mediation effort."

The stakeholders also said that they recognise and encourage other positive interventions in the impasse by other bodies, particularly that of the Minister of Labour and Productivity, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC).

"We hope that we can all work together to restore a peaceful industrial clime to aviation - one that will engender, not only improved productivity, but also enhance safety and security in the entire air space which will inspire confidence by local and international communities and which in turn will lead to better return on investment. This, we think, is the only way to enable aviation contribute its dues to the national GDP."

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