Posted by Sade Williams
As workers globally celebrates May Day in an unusual manner due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Union Of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association Of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), have called for special intervention for the aviation industry, saying the sector is the worst hit by the pandemic.
The associations also called on aviation organisations to re-think the plan to cut workers’ pay in the face of this issue, adding that they will not hesitate to confront any company that fails to put the plight of workers as priority amid this pandemic.
Comrade Ben Nnabue, president of NUATE in his speech noted that the present dire situation cannot afford rebellion and resistance against government, adding that there is need to set aside all differences and cooperate with one another by being compliant to rules.
“We have appealed to the managements of all our partner organisations to allow the humanity in them come afore at this time of human tragedy. We urge them to deep hands into their sinking funds and assure continuity of income for their workers – you, our members. We sincerely hope they understand with us and mitigate the catastrophe that could befall workers should they have to suffer the double jeopardy of the lockdown and significant or total loss of income. We are pleased that so far, the majority of our host organisations have shown substantial understanding. We urge the few odd ones to quickly adjust and tow the path of positive engagement. We are confident that the spirit of true partnership we have successfully built at this period will assure that we pull through this difficult time together, with all the companies and our members intact.
“At this point, I make this special call on the managements of various organisations whose staff are engaged in essential services, and who have to risk their lives and strain their meagre resources to find their ways to work under high transportation costs, to pay commensurate palliatives/incentives as a matter of necessity. This is the least the organisations can do.
“We have equally appealed to the Federal Government to come to the aid of aviation companies and agencies. Our industry, being about the worst hit by the pandemic, runs a very high risk of total collapse without government intervention or bailout, in one form or another. We therefore hope that Government will not only listen to our plea but will accord priority and urgency to the aviation sector in respect of the expected intervention. In this regard, we expect also that the handling of workers welfare will play significant role in the extent of access by the companies to the bailout measures.
“As already stated, this is an unusual May Day celebration. We therefore wish to be sensitive to the trying times and not delve into hard core trade union matters. Suffice, however, to assure you that your union, NUATE, is well and fully alive to its responsibilities and commitments to you, our esteemed members. In due course, we shall create opportunities to look critically at our journey thus far and projections into the future”, he said.
In a speech signed by ATSSSAN president, Comrade Ahmadu Ilitrus, the association empathises with the all players in the sector, adding that it is also aware of the plight of workers in their respective organisations in the sector.
“While we are using this day to empathise with every player in our industry, including our toiling comrades, who have been in one way or the other traumatised by the consequences of COVID-19 pandemic, may we quickly express that we are not unaware of the various regrettable assaults some employers are ignorantly directing against the innocent workers in their employment.
“While we genuinely remain accessible to every willing employer for constructive engagement to mutually address the negative impact of COVID-19, towards finding a win-win solution out of this present situation, we shall not accept this regime of unilateral and arbitrary cutting of our members’ salaries and declaration of unpaid leave. We are prepared to confront these assaults upon resumption with every vigour in us. This is not an empty threat!
“It is also important to inform that, in understanding and appreciating the enormous dangers the COVID-19 disruption poses to the survival of the aviation sector, our Union, in conjunction with NUATE, NAAPE and ANAP quickly forwarded a passionate letter of appeal to the Federal Government for special intervention in the aviation industry, of which all business operators shall be the greatest beneficiaries. Though, without prejudice to what the various aviation businesses are passing through at this time, we sincerely see no reason while our members should be a target for victimisation, especially at this early period of the crisis.
“Our Union salutes every frontline workers, among which aviators and the press should rightly belong, for their monumental sacrifices in the fight against COVID-19. It is in this vein we strongly enjoin our members to take strict compliance to the usage of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) seriously now and when operations fully resume at our various airports. Be assured that we are going to ensure that the required equipment are provided by Managements before we allow our members to be pushed to the frontline”, he added.