Arik Air loses millions as aviation unions strike paralyses flight operations

arik-air

…scores of passengers stranded

…airline resumes operations after NCAA intervened

…Arik to pay Oct, Nov salaries by Dec. 31

By Sade Williams

Arik Air may have lost millions of naira on Tuesday ( day one of union protest), as it could not operate any of its flights over an indefinite strike embarked upon by aviation unions under the aegis of National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and Air Traffic Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSAN) .

The unions, which immobilised their members at Arik Air headquarters as early as 7.am, even prevented staff from gaining access to their offices and the terminal buildings at both domestic and international wings of the Lagos airport.

The unions had in a statement on Monday, said the strike shall continue indefinitely until: the  management of Arik Air allows total unionisation of its employees in compliance with extant labour laws and with respect to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;

 The management of Arik Afor Wednesdayll sacked employees who has been victimised for their roles in the effort to bring about unionisation in Arik Air;

The airline pays of salary arrears of seven months with commitment to pay salaries as at when due hence forth.

Other requests are: immediate review of all employee remunerations which have remained the same since inception of Arik Air over ten years ago; 

Immediate commencement of negotiations of Conditions of Service to be concluded within four (4) weeks;

Remittance of Pension, Tax, and statutory deductions to the appropriate authorities and

Arik Air Management compliance with Nigerian Expatriate Quota law.

 

But Arik Air said on Tuesday that the unions were protesting the non-unionisation of Arik Air staff who are not members of any of these protesting unions, ‘expressing dismay and disappointment that a group of aviation unions have ambushed and disrupted the operations of the airline from early hours ofTuesday, December 20, 2016 by occupying its head office premises and preventing staff from gaining access to their workplace’.

Ola Banji, Arik spokesman explained that the representatives of the protesting unions also prevented the staff of the airline from gaining access to the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, disabling the checking-in of passengers for both domestic and international flights, adding that access to the airport terminals is fundamental to the airline’s operations for movement of its personnel to ready and dispatch our aircraft for various flights.

He explaimed further tha the union leadership had earlier written a letter to the management of Arik Air on their grievances and a meeting had been scheduled between the two parties for Wednesday, December 21, 2016.

Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide, Arik Air Chairman

Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide, Arik Air Chairman

The unions however, he said did not wait for the scheduled meeting or the outcome of the meeting, before embarking on such disruptive and strong-arm tactics against the airline. 

“The unions have demonstrated total disregard for the laws of Federal Republic of Nigeria by interfering in the operations of the airline and preventing airline staff from carrying on with their duties of handling the passengers booked for today’s flights.

“The decision not to join the aviation unions is that of the generality of Arik Air and the management of the airline is not involved in any manner and neither can it influence such individual decisions in any form since Unionism is a free will and not a matter of compulsion”, he said.

The airline is however, appealing to all the Security Agencies, the Minister of Aviation, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and all the other stakeholders in the industry ‘to prevail on these aviation unions to allow for operations to commence immediately since this unjustifiable disruption by the unions has already inconvenienced the travel plans of thousands of passengers today’.

“Arik Air sincerely apologise to its esteemed passengers for any inconvenience experienced due to this unwarranted disruption and unlawful action by the unions”, he added.

But in a reaction to the scenario which was almost going out of hands, the NCAA intervened and held a meeting with Arik Air management and union members where it was agreed that October and November salaries shall be be paid on or before December 31, 2016.

After it was agreed that the airline resume operations, the unions shall submit acknowledged copies of letters forwarding membership forms of their prospective members to the NCAA shall forward same to the management of Arik to do the needful.
At the meeting, a committee was set up to review circumstances of all laid off employees, except staff of Hawker fleet.
Parties also agreed that no staff shall be victimised as a consequence of the action.

 

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