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Aviation workers to picket Aero Contractors over unpaid salary, others

By Wole Oyebade
15 February 2022   |   4:11 am
Aviation workers’ unions have threatened to picket Aero Contractors over unpaid salary and alleged malfeasance in the management-workers’ relationship at the struggling airline.

Aviation workers’ unions have threatened to picket Aero Contractors over unpaid salary and alleged malfeasance in the management-workers’ relationship at the struggling airline.

The Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), yesterday, said that the notice of strike action by members of staff of Aero Contractors expired midnight of Sunday February 13 without management’s efforts to address the issue.

Specifically, the aggrieved workers demand the payment of January salary, and immediate unfreezing of all conditions of service purportedly suspended by Aero’s management. They also sought the immediate termination of Airbus operations, “because it is a threat to the survival of Aero” and a demand for the implementation of the report of the staff placement/re-grading committee.”

The unions, in a statement, noted that the coalition had exhausted all available channels for peaceful negotiations and resolution without any useful outcome.

“Aero management has blatantly refused to commit to finding lasting solutions to four-point demands and their appendages, which the unions have put forward to management of Aero. These issues are adversely affecting the welfare and productivity of staff members,” the statement read in part.

The unions alleged that the management of Aero Contractors, the oldest commercial airline in the country, deliberately delayed the payment of January salary, falsely citing paucity of funds.

“This is grossly misleading because according to the records, we conducted normal operations from December till 28th when one of the Boeings was withdrawn from service.

“On the Airbus operations, it has been confirmed that the contract is gradually suffocating Aero Contractors because of the unfavourable terms of agreement. Out of the 180 seats, Aero is only entitled to three seats at N35,000 each. In terms of revenue, in November 2021, total revenue was N3.3 billion. Airbus got N1.52 billion (47 per cent) and 334 flights, while Aero got N35 million from the Airbus’ operations.

“In the month of December 2021, the total revenue was N3.4 billion. Only Airbus had 32 per cent (211 flights), which amounted to N1.06 billion. Aero got only N22.1 million. The records also show that all the money that accrued to Aero, when we operated flights allocated to Airbus due to disruptions were recklessly transferred to Airbus without proper reconciliation.

“This is totally unacceptable. We also have it on record that more flights are unjustifiably allocated to Airbus and all our lucrative routes surrendered to them. In November 2021, out of 906 flights only Airbus operated 334 flights. We, therefore, pray to the authorities concerned to expeditiously intervene by calling Aero’s management to order so as to save Aero from the brink of collapse,” the union stated.

Managing Director of the airline, Capt Abdullahi Mahmood, said the carriers, like other airlines, were passing through hard times as a result of the economic situation in the country, especially with the forex liquidity issue.

Mahmood said the management had informed workers that there would be delay in January salary payment as the airline had it tough during the festive period, with equipment snags causing flight cancellations and refunds to passengers.

He, however, explained that over 70 per cent of the workers have received their salaries and that of others would follow soon.