Nigeria: Aviation Unions Worry Over Non Release of Intervention Funds to Sector

13 August 2020

Aviation unions, namely the National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ATSSSAN and Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals, ANAP, have expressed worry over the non-release of part of the 50 billion COVID-19 intervention fund meant for the aviation sector

Recall the federal government had listed the aviation sector as one of the beneficiaries of the intervention fund meant to rejig the economy because of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The unions have also expressed anger over the non-implementation of the workers' conditions of service in Nigeria Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN and Nigeria Meteorological Agency, NiMET.

Speaking during a media briefing in Lagos, on behalf of the three unions, the Secretary-General, NUATE, Comrade Aba Ocheme said, the industry was still awaiting the federal government N50 billion naira intervention fund to assist aviation agencies and businesses cope with the economic devastation occasioned by the pandemic.

Ocheme said: " Up till now, aviation is yet to be impacted by these interventions despite the industry being the most negatively impacted by COVID-19. As a result, all aviation companies remain in dire economic straits."

He revealed that more than 80% of the aviation workforce in the private sector who have been laid off in the past four months "remain in penury while another chunk of workers have been coping with half or less salary within the period".

Aba also expressed fear and uncertainty over modalities for the application of the intervention funds. He, therefore, drew the attention of the government to the recommendations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in partnership with the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), with regards to Intervention funds.

Some of the recommendations, amongst others, according to him, is for government to: "Offer conditional relief and support services to airlines, airport authorities and supply chain companies, including through debt relief, delays to tax and duties, and public ownership of share; agree conditions for these financial and support packages, including the private repurchase of shares following the recovery of the industry that: Protects the pay, terms, conditions and welfare of all aviation workers; Prohibits share repurchases, shareholder rewards and excessive executive pay."

The unions further said they were apprehensive that should government deviate from this well-thought-out and comprehensive modalities, then the intervention fund might well be, like in the past, a mere bazar or cash dole out rather than bailout.

"This will do the industry no good. We, therefore, ask for both haste and due diligence in dealing with this issue."

Other issues of concern to the unions are the practice of non-unionization by workers in some airlines and what it called unilateralism in decision making. According to the unions, airlines in the forefront of this are Arik Air, Aero Contractors, Turkish Airlines, Air Peace, Dana Air, Azman Air, Caverton Helicopters, and many others.

Warning that, "In the coming days, these corporate entities will have to contend with the wrath of aviation workers unless they ameliorate their various situations soon enough."

"Many aviation concerns have chosen the path of dishonour by hiding behind the pandemic to do havoc to their employees. While we very much recognize the adverse impact of COVID-19 on aviation businesses, the law and even decency dictate that all parties to the work environment need to put their heads together to chart a common path through the crisis; a path that fairly shares the losses among the component parts of the work environment".

" Our unions successfully engaged many organisations in this respect. But, many others chose the discredited path of unilateralism and by so doing have done grave injustice and plain wickedness to their employees."

"We equally serve notice hereby that our unions will give full effect to the two weeks ultimatum given by the NLC to the various entities to comply with labour laws or face the consequences of their actions."

"Therefore, because of the strong need to alert the travelling public and airport users that airport operations might become seriously constrained as a result of actions we are being compelled to take in defence of our hapless members who are being mercilessly and recklessly abused to no end", the unions warned.

Vanguard

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