IN a fortnight, unions in the aviation industry consisting National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) may shut down the airspace in the next two weeks over failure of the Federal Government to pay the N45bn final severance packages to the almost 6,000 workers of the former workers of Nigeria Airways Limited (NAL)
The industry unions were also upset by the insensitivity of the Ministry of Finance to pay the workers over 10 months after the approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) stating that they would not wait until the entire workers of the former national carriers died before taking step to ensure that they were paid their benefits.
The petition, dated March 19, 2018 and made available to journalists was signed by Comrade Ocheme Aba for NAAPE, Comrade Frances Akinjole, ATSSSAN and Olayinka Abioye for NUATE and addressed to Sen. Hadi Sirika, the Minister of State for Aviation.
The petitioners also copied the Ministers of Labour and Employment and Finance.
The unions also pointed out that they had commenced the mobilisation of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and United Labour Congress (ULC) in a bid to gather wider support for the action.
The petitioner, however, commended Sirika for his concerted efforts to ensure that the workers were paid appropriately, but wondered why Adeosun had failed to pay the sum as approved.
The petition read in part: “However, it is disheartening that the Honourable Minister of Finance has unconsciously and negatively ignored the President’s directive on this matter. She has equally in a most uncaring manner, refused to heed all entreaties by the hapless ex-workers.
“Not even the cries of the growing list of the avoidable deaths and other afflictions created by their excruciating conditions of existence had pinched the minister’s rock hard hear. Our previous letters to the minister has failed to move her just as earlier letter from the NLC on the matter.
“As we can no longer wait for all the ex-staff of the Nigeria Airways to die before entitlements are paid, we are therefore, compelled to force Adeosun to come to terms with the reality of the situation and be rid of her gross insensitivity.
“In view of the above, we are sad to inform you that all workers in the aviation sector will commence an indefinite industrial action in 14 days should the ex-Nigeria Airways workers fail to receive their entitlements as graciously approved. We have also commenced the mobilisation of NLC, TUC and ULC towards assuring wider support for this objective.”
It would be recalled that controversies have continued to trail the whereabouts of the approved N45bn terminal benefits of the former national carrier, Nigeria Airways since its approval.
Recall that the ex-NAL workers had accused Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Finance of wilfully delaying the payment of the severance packages despite approval by the government