Barricading access to the airline office as early as five am today, the two unions this morning made good their threat to ground the operations of Arik Air, chanting solidarity songs and blaring music and disrupting the free flow of traffic at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Road.
Arik Air in reaction still insists the strike is illegal and done without good faith.
Passengers who arrived at the General Aviation Terminals (GAT) and Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA2) were taken aback as Arik’s counters were empty and they were told to buy tickets from other airlines for their travel because staff was on strike.
Staff of the airline and executives of NUATE and ATSSSAN had insisted on a no going back stance last Friday after alleging that the airline refused to meet their demands or negotiate with them.
The airline however, in a plea explained that the unions were asking for an unfair demand stating that the airline had met them at a point only for them to put up another demand that was not part of their original Condition of Service.
This morning, unionists and staff of the airline carried placards with different inscriptions on the airline gate which read; ‘We say No to slavery’,Modern Slavery in Arik Air LTD’, ‘Every worker has the right to working conditions which respects his safety, health and dignity among others’ expressing their resolve not to stand down.
Already the airline is counting it’s losses just coming out of the COVID-19 induced lock down with low passenger traffic to face a full-fledged shutdown by unions.
A management staff of the airline under conditions of anonymity questioned the unions motive drawing the attention to the period they chose to initiate the strike notwithstanding what the industry has gone through.
“Look this is quite sad. We will lose money and this same staff will expect full payment month end? How is the fair? Especially as they have even considered that their bread are buttered by the airline flying and aircraft seats are perishable once gone, gone for good. Many of our passengers have had to fly with other airlines because of this and this has disrupted their plans and it’s the airline’s name and brand at stake,” he lamented.
“Unfortunately, our unions are not thinking that if anything happens to the airline all their agitation will become moot. We are still trying to engage them and they did this…so unfair.”
A passenger simply identified as China, who spoke to Nigerianflightdeck having not got on his flight had this to say:
“Right now, I don’t know where to go or what to do. I was to travel to Owerri now, I am stranded and to get my money back is a long process, this is just wrong they should get their acts right airline and staff sigh.”
The industrial action led to cog in the flow of traffic leading in and out of the Murtala Muhammed Airport airport.
Meanwhile, Nigerianflightdeck is aware that the Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has called both staff and management to a meeting on Tuesday to chart a course forward.
Apology to passengers over flights disruption
Meanwhile, management of Arik Air (In Receivership) has apologised to all its esteemed customers whose travel plans were disrupted by the picketing of its operations by some disgruntled staff on Monday, September 14, 2020.
A statement signed by Manager, PR & Communications, Adebanji Ola read,”We wish to place on record that the picketing was illegal and has no backing of the aviation unions whose leadership has 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.