Aviation workers picket FAAN over welfare as FG restates support for sector
A coalition of aviation workers’ unions, yesterday, commenced industrial action by picketing the Lagos Office of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) over lingering welfare disputes with the management.
The action, which followed the expiration of a seven-day ultimatum, also shut the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, out of a town hall meeting with workers in Lagos and the South West scheduled for yesterday.
The Guardian learnt that as early as 6 a.m. yesterday, union members stormed the Lagos office of FAAN and the town hall meeting and locking up all the entrance gates and vehicles were deployed to block all entrances as the workers sauntered around.
Their protest march also brought the Lagos airport to a halt for several hours, with commuters and motorists unable to access the terminals.
The unionists said the industrial action was in lieu of the seven days ultimatum earlier issued to press home their welfare demands. The Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) had last week issued FAAN an ultimatum to resolve pending pay disputes, salaries and gratuity.
They are asking FAAN’s management to remit ₦105.3b actuarial valuation as at 2016, remittance of all pension deductions to the Pension Fund Administrators (PFA) and immediate preparation of 2020 actuarial valuation.
Other demands include remittance of all cooperative deductions, payment of child education grant, leave allowances, furniture grant, gratuity, COVID-19 palliatives and death benefits, among other sundry claims.
General Secretary, NUATE, Ocheme Aba, said the management had continued to flout workers’ rights, alleging that salaries were still staggered, adding that the unions were against the concession model being deployed by the government, saying it would shortchange the country.
MEANWHILE, the Federal Government has restated its commitment to support businesses and other entrepreneurs in the country’s aviation industry.
Sirika, who said this during the facility tour of the Caverton Helicopters Company at the Tracon Site of Muritala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, assured that the orientation of regulatory authorities would also change from being an industry police to enabler of businesses.
He commended the company on their new Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) and Flight Simulator facilities, which would soon commence the training of pilots in Nigeria and other countries of the world.
The minister noted that Caverton’s initiative would not only boost the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but also serve as a capacity building project for the youth.
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