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Nigeria: Aviation Unions Adamant, Vow to Shut Down Airports Today

Aviation unions have insisted on executing the warning strike proposed to shut down the sector over irreconcilable differences with the Federal Ministry of Aviation (FMOA).

With the strike going as planned, local also foreign airlines scheduled would be disrupted and passengers are expected to be stranded at their various destinations.

In a chat with LEADERSHIP, the deputy general secretary, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Frances Akinjole, said the union would be going ahead with the industrial action.

According to him, the unions are mobilising their members for the strike.

"Mobilisation is in top gear," he said in a message to LEADERSHIP over the planned strike.

On his part, the president, National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), Abednego Galadima, said there is ongoing effort by the Ministry of Aviation to engage the unions over the proposed strike.

He, however, disclosed that the strike would go on despite the ongoing effort of the federal government to engage the union leaders.

"By God's grace, the strike will hold," he said.

Meanwhile, a source in the aviation ministry has disclosed that the possibility of the strike being called off was slim as the minister of aviation is presently out of the country.

The source, who craved anonymity, however, stated that there was no plan on ground to engage the labour union leaders by the ministry.

"The minister is currently out of the country on lesser Hajj and as of the close of work on Friday, no plan to engage the union. Besides, the aviation unions happen to be powerful and they have no regard for the minister," he stated.

He, however, expressed hope that the strike would be called off by the union leaders because of the consequences to the traveling public.

Meanwhile, the chief executive officer, Centurion Security and Safety Consults, Capt. John Ojikutu, urged the unions not to shut down the aviation sector, saying 80 percent of commercial aviation earnings come from foreign airlines whose activities would be affected by the strike.

Ojikutu, a member of the Aviation Round Table Initiative (ARTI), urged the unions to take the protest to their employers' offices and not to operational areas of local and foreign airlines.

He said, "I think these unions, who are mainly government employees, are climbing their trees beyond the leaves. If they are at war with their employers, how do the local and the foreign airlines have to be getting knocks from them?

"They should carry their grievances to their employers' offices and not to operational areas where they would disrupt the operations of private airlines, service providers and the foreign airlines. The leadership of the unions should know that the foreign airlines alone, despite their trapped funds in our banks, contribute a minimum of 80 percent of our earnings in commercial aviation and that includes their salaries and other entitlements," he stated.

LEADERSHIP reports that the unions had issued a warning strike notice for April 17th and 18th, 2023 over the implementation of new minimum wage consequential adjustment with arrears for the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) since 2019 and the release of the reviewed conditions of service for the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria and NIMET.

The unions also expressed worry over the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika's threat to demolish the headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), NAMA, NCAA, NCAT, and NIMET in Lagos despite their entreaties towards caution.

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