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Aviation workers to begin strike June 15

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Barring a special intervention from the Federal Government to key agencies, aviation workers are scheduled to begin industrial action in protest against salary shortfalls on June 15.

The threat comes ahead of the planned resumption of domestic flights in five airports across geopolitical zones on June 21.
 
A threat letter signed by the coalition of aviation workers’ unions, made available to The Guardian`, yesterday, appealed to the Federal Government to rescue the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), in meeting their salary obligations, without which the workforce would down tools.

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The Guardian lately reported that the managements of the five aviation parastatals were having difficulties paying monthly salaries with zero revenue in the last two months of restriction in commercial flights. 
 
Worst-hit is FAAN, which has about 12,000 workers, 22 airports and at least N4billion monthly overhead cost. The FAAN’s management earlier moved to pay 50 per cent salary for May. Protests by workers’ unions forced FAAN to rescind the decision for the month of May, though gave no guarantee for subsequent payments should the fortunes of the industry fail to improve.
 
Apparently following in the footsteps of FAAN, NAMA has also shown difficulties in paying May salaries in full, but much to the chagrin of the unions.
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The unions, among which are the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE); Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN); Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP); and Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), urged President Muhammadu Buhari to avert another crisis in the sector.
 
They acknowledged that it took efforts on the part of the management of FAAN to pay salaries for the month of May. 
 
General Secretary, NUATE, Ocheme Aba, noted that the possibility of “such miracle” for the month of June was rather bleak. 
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“At the same time, the management of NAMA has informed its in-house unions about its inability to continue to pay normal salaries. And as is well within public domain, most aviation companies have sent their workers home without salaries for months now, while some are paying only a fraction of salaries to workers on essential duties compelled to come to work.”
 
The unions stated that while the adverse socio-economic situation imposed by the COVID-19 was an act of God, there could be little debate that workers had been dealt a larger portion of the burden to bear due to no fault of theirs. 
 
“This burden has become exceedingly telling on the workers, and the cost has become unbearable. Our Unions can no longer contain the wailings of our members; the aviation workers.
 
“In the light of the above reality, our unions are constrained to serve notice that should the situation of no salary, or incomplete salary, remain beyond the 15th of June, 2020, the only option left for our Unions will be to ask all aviation workers to remain at home pending when their salaries can be guaranteed.
 
“This option will be inevitable as we are unable to justify the continuation of the present unfairness whereby the workers have to use their own meagre resources to finance their commune to and fro work under the very difficult COVID-19 transportation challenges. We hope that you will understand our situation and direct that the needful be done in this circumstance,” the letter read in part.

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