Aviation workers’ unions have lamented the continued poor conditions of service in the sector, particularly the ministry’s reluctance to create a new directive and upward adjustment in earnings over the past nine years.
Unions, at the May Day Labor Day commemoration in Lagos, indicated that important decisions were currently being deliberated to end the wait-and-see attitude and ‘slavery’ of airline workers .
Unions had previously informed airlines and the general public of the total withdrawal of air transport services in February 2022, in protest at the poor welfare and non-release of the agreed condition of service (CoS). Following the intervention, the industrial action was suspended.
The coalition comprised of members of National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Association of Air Transport Service Senior Managers of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and Association of Aviation Professionals of Nigeria (ANAP) , had consistently drawn attention to the government’s failure to publish the six aviation agencies’ negotiated terms of service since 2013 and the non-enforcement of the minimum wage and related adjustment since 2019.
NUATE National Chairman Ben Nnabue said it was regrettable that the two big issues of consequential adjustment of minimum wage and CoS for aviation agencies continue to rage unabated.
“But we strongly support the workers’ decision not to accept government agencies continuing to shift the goalpost on these issues. Therefore, this week has been set for major decisions and subsequent decisive actions that will bring these issues to a foreclosure.
“Similarly, the major local airlines continue to defy the law on freedom of association and union membership, and the promise of intervention by the Minister of Labor has not been kept.
Therefore, we are left with our own devices to ensure that all aviation workers, especially at Air Peace, Azman Air, Dana Air, etc., are fully freed from slave labor this year,” said said Nnabue.
He added that NUATE is not satisfied with the ongoing discussions around the big issue of the airport concession.
“We are unclear as to the government’s actual response to aviation union grievances on labor issues and the many shortcomings of the concession program. In the weeks to come, important decisions will be taken to chart a clear path towards improving the demands already expressed by the workers.
“We call on the Minister of Aviation to urgently review his aviation roadmap and the outstanding welfare issues. We are of the view that the drafts in the roadmap require significant adjustments to harmonize them with the current realities of the aviation world and our national interest,” he said.
ANAP Secretary General Abdulrasaq Saidu noted that the influx of inexperienced politicians would disrupt the efficiency of the industry.
Saidu blamed the development on the agencies’ lack of a board of directors, which affected workers’ conditions of service for about nine years.
He added that aviation workers are restless and frustrated over the neglect as they were not happy to work in helpless conditions.
The ANAP scribe said that all unions had done everything possible to maintain social harmony but “the Ministry of Aviation remained an obstacle in the wheel of progress by neglecting the welfare of workers and by diverting the duties of the workers concerning the conditions of service”.
He, however, praised the workers for their resilience and their struggle to build a larger workforce and urged them not to back down.