Nigeria’s Minister Aviation Sen. Hadi Sirika, is rueing the incessant strikes that have bedevilled the aviation industry spearheaded by unions in the sector stating that the unions need a paradigm shift from the current way they do things.
Sirika said that the Ministry of Aviation and the various managements in the sector had been working harmoniously with the unions since the government came onboard in 2015 and wondered why some of the associations were embarking on strike at this time.
Sirika made these known in Lagos during the opening ceremony of the three days conference jointly organised by the Federal Ministry of Aviation and the Joint Aviation Trade Unions Forum (JATUF).
Sirika who was represented at the conference with the theme: ‘Re-Inventing Trade Unionism for Sustainable Growth and Development in the Nigerian Aviation Sector,’ by Mrs. Nkechi Nwokocha, the Director, Human Resource Management, Federal Ministry of Aviation said that the minister had over the years been working with the unions to develop the sector.
Rather than embark on strikes, Sirika called for dialogue between the management and the unions to resolve industrial matters in the sector.
He insisted that there should be paradigm shift from the unions on how they deal with the government, insisting that the sector could only witness growth when all parties work in unison.
He said: “The minister is very pained that the unions are coming up with the issue of strikes at this time that he’s about to leave the office. He has been working with the unions over the years, but he feels the unions want to rubbish all he has done over the years with them with these strikes.
“You (unions) need a paradigm shift on how you deal with the government on any critical issues at hand. Whenever the unions move with the government, there will always be positive results. We are partners in progress. A good working environment will cause workers to deliver their best.”
Earlier, Engr. Abednego Galadima, the President, National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) in his welcome address, said that it was necessary for all organisations in the sector to measure up with the developments in the global aviation industry.
Galadima also said that for unions to continue to be relevant in the sector, it needed to adopt innovations by leveraging on latest technologies in the sector.
He further canvassed for democracy in critical decisions making by the unions and aviation agencies and appealed to private organizations in the sector not to take the unions as rivals, but as partners in progress.
He added: “Unions need to strategise their financial capacity to enable us render help to members and not necessarily going to organisations for help.
“The leadership conference is an opportunity to train union leaders. We want leadership that will evolve with strategic alliance, partnership and collaboration. This has to be sustained among the unions.”
Also, Comrade Kabir Gusau, the President, Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP) called on the government to always honour agreements.
Talking about the recent two days warning strike, which paralysed activities in the sector, Gusau pointed out that the unions were pushed to the wall by the government to take the action.
He decried that the government over the years had continued to treat issues affecting the workers with levity.
He informed that a meeting between the government and the unions had been slated for May 9, 2023 in Abuja to resolve all the challenges associated with the Condition of Service (CoS) and other welfare issues with their members.
He hoped that a fruitful agreement would be reached with both parties to prevent another breakdown of laws and others in the sector.
Besides, Engr. Akin Olateru, the Director-General of the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB), advised the unions not to be disruptive in moving the sector forward.
According to him, it was necessary for the unions to think out of the box in moving the industry forward and improving on the welfare of their members.
The highlight of the event was the presentation of awards to some stakeholders and professionals who had contributed to the growth of the industry in the past years.
Some of those recognised with awards included Sirika, Olateru, Chief Executive Officers of aviation agencies, and Comrade Abdulrasaq Saidu.