AGAIN, the unions seem to be gearing for another showdown and this time, its sundry issues that affect the aviation industry from the COVID-19 intervention fund, condition of services for certain agencies to minimum wage as well as relocation of headquarters of agencies given a two week ultimatum for all concerned to comply with labour laws or face the consequences of their action.

The unions the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) made this known in a press conference today.

The conference superintended by General Secretary NUATE, Comrade Ocheme Abba, Deputy General Secretary ATSSSAN, Comrade Frances Akinjole and Secretary General of ANAP, Comrade Abdul Rasaq Saidu tagged Aviation is in a State of Emergency said they were compelled  to raise alarm about an impending implosion and looming crisis in the aviation industry.

The unions’ agitation with regards to relocation and the COVID-19 bailout funds is premised on timing and the current trend of borrowing among agencies to pay salaries, stating that the Minister did not heed any advice as this was neither the time or was there budgetary provison.

They stated, “We have variously protested the order given by the Hon. Minister of Aviation for the relocation of the Headquarters of FAAN, NAMA, NCAA and AIB from Lagos to Abuja at this time. While submitting to Government the right to determine the appropriate location of its agencies (though there is ample room for debate on the matter), we have, however, pointed out to government the need to be circumspect in pursuing this particular objective at this particular time.

“We pointed at the present crisis of COVID-19, the absence of budgetary provision for most, if not all the Agencies in the current budget cycle, the unavailability of office buildings in Abuja, the absence of any real pressure to do so, and other extenuating circumstances which we had hoped would cause a change of strategy to a more pragmatic approach.

“Unfortunately, our efforts in this regard have been to no avail. But, now the vexing issue of refusal of the various managements to engage with us on the labour implications of the relocation has become a new crisis point. The only exception to this is FAAN. We have a responsibility to the workers of these agencies to insist that their genuine rights and interests with regard to relocation are adequately protected.  No one should expect that our Unions will shirk that responsibility,” it said.

On the COVID-19 Intervention Fund, the unions said the modalities for the intervention is yet to be known and  aviation, the most negatively impacted by COVID-19 is yet to be impacted by these interventions.

The unions said, “At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Government announced an intervention fund of S500B. And recently, the FEC approved N2.3T intervention fund to assist businesses cope with the economic devastation occasioned by the pandemic.

“Up till now, aviation is yet to be impacted by these interventions despite the industry being the most negatively impacted by COVID-19. As a result, all the aviation companies remain in dire economic straits.

“Our greater fear lies in the uncertainty that beclouds the modalities for application of the intervention funds. Against the background of government’s stated purpose for the intervention – continuity of business, continuity of employment, and continuity of income for employees – we have severally brought government’s attention to the recommendations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in partnership with the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF).

“We are apprehensive that should government deviate from this well thought-out and comprehensive modalities, then the intervention might well be, like in the past, a mere bazar, or cash dole out rather than bail out. This will do the industry no good. We therefore, ask for both haste and due diligence in dealing with this issue.”



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