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Aviation workers lament poor condition of service, unpaid allowances

By Wole Oyebade
22 October 2021   |   3:01 am
Aviation workers have kicked against “poor” Condition of Service (CoS) in the sector, saying it falls below the standard expected it.

Airplane. Photo/facebook/ngxgroup

NAMA workers unsettled, relocate to Abuja by road

Aviation workers have kicked against “poor” Condition of Service (CoS) in the sector, saying it falls below the standard expected it.

The workers, made up of pilots, engineers, inspectors and other ancillary service providers attached to aviation agencies, said the situation and government’s efforts at reviewing the CoS had dragged on for too long.

About a year after the Aviation Minister, Capt. Hadi Sirika directed all aviation agencies in Lagos to relocate to Abuja, affected workers of the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) are yet to be paid the statutory relocation allowance.

The Guardian learnt that the affected mid-level and junior officers have lately been condemned to travel by road.

“Our people cannot afford the airfare,” one of the cash-strapped workers complained, yesterday. “That is how bad the situation is. They (workers) travelled by road to resume in Abuja headquarters, despite the risk of getting kidnapped and the poor state of the roads. Two weeks ago, about five of us were stuck around Ekiti for a night because of the bad road.

“It is most unfortunate. Yet the management keeps insisting that workers should resume in Abuja. They have no allowance for transport or accommodation for us. Where is the place of workers’ welfare? Because people want to keep their job, they go by bus, show up at the Abuja office and soon find their way back to Lagos,” the official said in Lagos.

Another senior official at NAMA said the management was working hard to give the workers their due, but “the relocation allowance is embedded in the new CoS that we are all waiting for.

“The workers, including myself, will be paid once the CoS gets approved by the Federal Government.”

The National Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) has, in fact, issued a three-week ultimatum to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to address issues bothering the safety of its inspectors.

President of NAAPE, Abednego Galadinma, said if the NCAA failed to address the issue, members would not hesitate to withdraw their services.

Galadinma said withdrawing their members might affect the industry with the forthcoming International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) audit of Nigeria.

He said the insensitivity to the plight of workers has led to the resignation of 30 qualified and seasoned aviation safety inspectors from the NCAA, who have sought employment with airlines and other international organisations.

“The poor remuneration and working condition of the inspectors pose serious threats to safety as there is a dearth of qualified inspectors to carry out safety oversight on operators. The few remaining inspectors that are over-worked and clearly de-demotivated would likely fail to satisfactorily perform their functions, which are very critical to the sustenance of safety and security within the Nigerian aviation industry”.

The NAAPE president noted that despite the strike embarked on by the unions in the NCAA in 2019 over the CoS, and the Aviation Minister’s visit to the Salaries and Wages Commission, nothing concrete had been done to release the documents.

He disclosed that they have no choice but to issue three weeks ultimatum to the NCAA to expedite action on the approval of the CoS or face industrial action by NAAPE.

NAAPE called on the Minister of Finance, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Salaries and Wages Commission and the Management of the NCAA and all concerned stakeholders to conclude approvals and release the documents within three weeks, “failing which our members’ services will be withdrawn and will be instructed not to participate in any Pre-ICAO audit activities”.