Posted by Sade Williams
Following aviation unions’ picketing of Arik Air which led to the grounding of its flights nationwide on Monday, the airline management to all its customers whose travel plans were disrupted by the picketing of its operations.
Members of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria ( ATSSSAN) in Arik Air , carried out their threats to shut down the operations of the airline if some conditions of service were not met.
Members of the unions were seen barricading the headquarters of Arik air with their vehicles and posted placards on the gate with inscriptions: Modern slavery in Arik Air LTD, We say No to slavery, Every workers have rights to working conditions which respects his safety, health and dignity, chanting and singing solidarity songs.
Passengers of the airline were stranded and could not travel this morning as the Arik Air counters were empty, no staff was around to tell the passengers what was going on.
Some of the passengers were told by other airlines staff that the Arik staff were on strike.
But the airline after it apologised on Monday, said the picketing was illegal, adding that already working with the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ministry of Aviation and Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to resolve all pending issues with the unions and a section of the staff.
“We wish to place on record that the picketing was illegal and has no backing of the aviation unions whose leadership have embraced dialogue by attending mediatory meetings called for Tuesday, September 15, 2020 by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
“The management strongly condemns this action and once again assures all stakeholders of a safe and conducive working environment. We shall also protect the interest of the flying public for a safe, friendly and on time travelling experience.
“We are already working with the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ministry of Aviation and Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to resolve all pending issues with the unions and a section of the staff. Customers with valid tickets who could not fly on Monday can modify such tickets at no cost for future travels. We are working to bring the situation under control and the public will be advised accordingly”, the airline spokesman said.
The Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Captain Roy Ilegbodu, had in a letter on Friday, asked the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, to intervene in the matter, saying strike action is not the solution to matters that can be settled through discussions.
In the letter dated September 11, 2020, signed by Captain Roy Ilegbodu, Chief Executive Office of the airline and copied the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika and Director general of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the airline said it ‘strongly believes that the threat of strike action without an exhaustive use of the various channels of engagement, discussion, consensus and understanding is faulty and unlikely to yield the best outcomes for staff, the company and its faithful passengers.
“While it is the right of staff to share in the prosperity of a company, the request for an additional retirement scheme from a loss making company, in receivership and whose operations are supported by creditors over and above legal requirements is simply onerous. Given the cost driven challenges in the aviation sector that have seen majority of airlines fold up in the past years, the request by the unions will set an unsustainable standard for other airlines that are struggling to survive in these difficult times. Nothwitstanding, management restates its commitment to appropriate staff welfare and will do its best to keep workers motivated within the limit of available resources” , the letter reads in part.