NATIONAL Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) has petitioned the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) over how government can assist the country’s aviation sector during this COVID-19 era warning against monetary intervention that yielded no results in the past.
The union in a petition signed by Comrade Ocheme Aba, the General Secretary, NUATE, said that government’s intervention whatever form they may take, should mimic the extent of losses incurred by each and every organisation, public or private, and should vary proportionately.
The petition read: “Cash grants should be extremely minimized, or even totally avoided. In other words, little or no monies should be paid directly to the companies or agencies. Rather, debts and other outstanding obligations which constitute overhangs should be carefully determined and paid directly from the intervention fund. Such obligations could include outstanding staff emoluments, operational fees to FAAN and the other agencies, remittances (PenCom, taxes, etc), outstanding scheduled mandatory aircraft maintenance costs, and such other outstanding debits.
He further stated that there should be clear conditionality for access to the intervention fund as well as involvement of the union to ensure there is transparency in the process.
“There have to be clear conditionalities for access to the intervention fund,, such as, (a) discernable good corporate governance structure, (b) transparent and accountable process for monitoring implementation of the intervention policies, (c) industrial climate, especially the presence of freedom for employees to freely join trade unions of their choosing, as well as presence of validly negotiated Conditions of Service, (d) accountability for previous interventions where applicable, and such other conditions that may be deemed fit.
“There is clear case for the involvement of our Union in the process to assure transparency and effectiveness, and to benefit from our wide and strong base, as well as our good understanding of the sector, including, importantly, its history.
The union also recommended that government utilize this opportunity to fully resolve the dicey situation of Aero Contractors and Arik Air, both of which are under the receivership of AMCON as a result of debt overhang.
“We would suggest and support AMCON’s full absorption of the debts of the two airlines to make way for positive acquisition of the airlines by those with proven capacity to progress the enterprises in the manner that could protect jobs and increase employment of Nigerians. As such, the intervention for these ailing outfits could be tailored in the above fashion.”
Aba had lamented that the sector was the most hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and warned that without intervention from the government, the sector may collapse finally.
He observed that the airline sub-sector was struggling to remain in business before the emergence of the virus and wondered how they could remain in business post-Covid-19 pandemic.