Airport Closure: Workers threaten to withdraw services, management allays workers fear
Members of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), has threatened to withdraw their services at Kaduna airport should the Federal Government failed to prioritise their welfare.
NUATE’s General Secretary, Mr Olayinka Abioye, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Abuja that government had not said anything about the staff of workers that would be deployed.
Abioye alleged that NUATE members in various aviation parastatals under the Ministry of Transportation, who had been engaged in ad hoc assignments in the past, had not been fairly treated in term of welfare.
He added that the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), currently owed their members millions of naira in allowances.
According to him, if we are relocating operation to Kaduna, what are the critical elements that will be involved in this operation? It is the workers.
“Now, in 2016, we were being told that the Abuja airport will be closed for six weeks by March 8.
“The government, through the parastatls, have not said anything about the staff welfare, in all the discussions that have been going on.
“We have been talking about this and our position as a labour movement is that the government must come out to tell us specifically what it has in stock for the workers.
“We believe in the growth of the industry, we believe in this operation and have also aligned ourselves that truly Abuja airport is due for comprehensive rehabilitation.
“As I speak with you, in NAMA, FAAN and NCAA, there are millions of naira that are being owed these esteemed members of staff in these organisations.
“If at the end of February nothing concrete is shown to the workers that they are going to get paid before they embark on that journey, we will ask our people to withdraw their services,’’ he said.
NUATE Scribe said that the unions were not involved in all the discussions on how the operation in Kaduna would succeed during the six weeks.
He added that Kaduna airport lacked the required manpower for the operation, which according to him, makes it imperative that staff would be moved from Abuja airport.
Another executive of the union in Abuja Airport, who pleaded anonymity, told NAN that some of the members of staff that would be deployed for the operation were strangers to Kaduna.
He added that considering the bad security situation in the state, workers that would be moved from Abuja to boost the operation needed to be adequately mobilised.
The official told NAN that the union has had experience where its members were deployed for such emergency operation and were not taken care of.
He alleged that during the closure of Port Harcourt airport for one and half year, members of staff that were deployed to Owerri airport were denied their entitlements.
“We are not ready to go to Kaduna and suffer because from the budget for the six weeks operation, no provision was made for airport staff.
“What we want is that whatever is due to us should be paid before we can go to Kaduna because we are not comfortable with the attitude of the management of our parastatals,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, FAAN’s Acting General Manager, Corporate Affairs, in her response, assured workers that adequate arrangement had been made for the staff welfare during the period.
Yakubu said that FAAN was not unaware that the workers were going to outstation, adding that the authority would not move any of its staff out of his or her station without being paid allowances.
According to her, even though there is no provision for them in the government’s budget, it is the responsibility of the agencies to take care of their workers.
“If they have been short changed in the past, I can assure you that it will not happen this time around, especially with the public awareness in this case,’’ she said.