- Causes massive traffic gridlock around Lagos airport
By Louis Ibah .
Labour unions in Nigeria’s aviation sector have made good their threats of shutting down the operations of Arik Air over the failure of the airline’s new management to reinstate some sacked workers and for baring workers from being a part of any union in the industry.
The picketing of the airline is done by the following unions: the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE). Aside causing disruptions to passengers who were billed to travel with the airline to various destination in the country and even outside, the activities of the union has also created a human and vehicular traffic crisis along the roads leading into and out of the airport. The unions despite the heavy presence of the Nigerian Police had as early has 4am barricaded the headquarters of the airline thus preventing staff from having access to perform their duties.
It was also learnt that the protesting union had also bared oil marketers from supplying Jet A1 (Aviation fuel) to the airline in a bid to render the aircraft in the airline fleet non-functional. The General Secretary of NUATE, Mr. Olayinka Abioye in an interview with journalists at the union’s headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos accused the new management of Arik Air of intolerance to unionism.
He alleged that the new management through a circular recently warned the workers not to join the unions in the industry and had refused to address all the pending issues affecting workers welfare in the airline.
Arik Air was on February 6,2017 taken over by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) under a receivership deal. A statement by the new management of the airline said decried the picketing by the union. “We hasten to say that the motive of this picketing is unclear to Management and their action is therefore illegal,” said the statement. “It is a well-known fact that Arik is under Receivership following various challenges experienced over the last few years, which include delays and cancellations of flights, delays in payment of salaries and huge debts to trade creditors and suppliers, bad corporate governance and a host of others. For the record, the Management had engaged with its staff and is convinced that there is no reason to picket our airline, which is facing challenging times
“With the assistance of AMCON, salaries are being paid including backlogs, on time performance has improved from 15 per cent to average of 80 per cent and fuel suppliers that hitherto quit doing business with Arik are happily doing business with the airline. “The focus of the Arik Air management is to stabilise the operations of the airline and enhance its ability to play a positive role in Nigeria’s aviation industry. Therefore the Management of the airline advises the unions to steer clear from undermining the operations of Arik Air. Management would take every legal measure at its disposal to stop any illegal interference with its operations,” the statement added.