June 6, 2023

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LABOUR DAY: Aviation workers not on minimum wage, no conditions of service, no palliative!!!

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Comrade Kabir Yahaya Gusau, President, Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals, ANAP

Workers in the Nigeria aviation agencies have lamented the unwarranted denial of none payment of minimum wage as approved by the federal government since the past two years, and the none existence of conditions of service which although, had jointly been agreed upon by the labour unions and the different agencies’ management since the past seven (7) years, but for the lack of the Governing Boards, the workers just continue to toil, without binding conditions of engagement by each of the federal parastatals.

The President, National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, Comrade Ben K. Nnabue, made these known in his remark, on the celebration of this year’s workers’ day which he said various government ministries concerned had exhibited great disdain to the plight of his members who are now subjected to very unfair work conditions.

Comrade Nnabue narrated the pathetic situation thus, “It is imperative that I use this medium to express our frustration over the unjust treatment meted to workers of aviation agencies by the Salaries and Wages Commission and the Head of Service. We have become tired of begging for our rights in respect of the stated issues of Conditions of Service and minimum wage which have been denied aviation workers for two years running”.

He said although his members had lost confidence and patience on the lackadaisical attitude of the two bodies concerned, they would soon explore a new approach if by 16th May 2021, nothing cheering is heard from the office of the Head of Service and that of the Salaries and Wages Commission, the union leadership shall from 17th of May, 2021 order a novel course of action against the government.

The NUATE President said that under his watch the labour issues from the private sector had been largely resolved through pragmatic, systematic and strategic trade union practice but for yet to be ratified resolution with Turkish Airlines and the ongoing impasse with Arik Air.

Comrade Ben K. Nnabue, President, National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE

Nnabue however added a caveat that, “while we (NUATE) look forward to the resolutions of the Turkish Airlines and Arik Air imbroglios in the next few days, we cannot but call on all NUATE structures nationwide to be on red alert as any further slip by the Managements of these organizations will definitely amount to taking us for a ride and will attract countermeasures from the labour movement with maximum force”.

The union expressed surprise in how the federal government through the aviation ministry acted contrary to the age-long, wise dictum of African legend that, “a wise parent would not see his child waistline bare, and wear the bead on another child’s waist”, which to the union’s consternation, happened in the manner the palliative to the aviation industry was disbursed.

Comrade Ben K. Nnabue lamented, “It is truly regrettable that the Federal Government intervention fund for the aviation sector was shared among aviation companies with no impact on government aviation agencies’ workers. Till date, large numbers of aviation workers remain on furlough leave, many of them with no pay, while many others receive as low as 20% of their salaries. This is very disheartening. It is our plea that the Government takes another look at this unfortunate situation with a view to compelling urgent remedial actions on the part of the agencies”.

To the private operators in the industry taking advantage of the epidemic to impoverish their workers, the union leader retorted, “we find no justification whatsoever for the continuation of any kind of forced leave on the basis of the pandemic as businesses in the local aviation scene has now surpassed pre-covid levels”.

Comrade Nnabue cautioned organizations culpable for such unfair labour act saying, “companies that have kept their workers away from work without pay while enjoying the current boom in air travel are guilty of plain wickedness and slave labour for utilizing fewer workers for higher volumes of work. We call on the regulatory authorities (NCAA) to urgently bring pressure to bear on this unbearable conditions to achieve some resolution, as we call on the managements of concerned organizations to avail themselves of some conscience so as to revert to normal personnel deployment. We plead”.

The union was bewildered that the federal government could not see the nexus between the large scale redundancies, leave without pay, salary cuts, and aviation security.

Hence, the union volunteered that, “government must tailor its financial intervention in the sector to mitigate these prevalent, unsavoury indices as a vital point that ought to have been given prime consideration in the last intervention, but was inexplicably overrun by the urge to share. This, of course, speaks to the need for further interventions. We plead”

Comrade Ben K. Nnabue however extend an olive branch to “all aviation concerns as well as the Ministry of Aviation to accept our hand of fellowship so that together we can remove all clogs on the wheel of industrial harmony, remove the obstacles to progress, and join efforts to move the various organizations and aviation in Nigeria to greater heights”, he concluded.

In the same vein, the leadership of the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals, ANAP, congratulated aviation workers of all cadres and urged them not to give up in the struggle for a better industry that will be robust for the promotion of equity, fairness, justice and collective negotiation to thrive.

Middle: Comrade AbdulRazaq Seidu, Secretary General, ANAP, at the May Day rally

President of ANAP, Comrade Kabir Yahaya Gusau, commended his members for their steadfastness and total support for the leadership in all its ways and means to surmount the labour challenges as they kept rearing their ugly heads since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Comrade Gusau urged members not to tire out as the road to ideal labour relations and impeccable welfare is still far ahead and it’s a task that must be accomplished.

Gusau in his terse statement said, “we must continue to remain resilient and resist all forms of manipulations and denials of our rights and priviledges by powers that be”.

He charged members to “please do accept on behalf of NAC and NEC, our highest regards as we continue to contribute our quota to the numerous tasks of nation-building despite the pandemic.

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