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Workers threaten strike over sack gale by airlines, operators scramble to avert action

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PHOTO: Arik Air

PHOTO: Arik Air

The air travel sector may soon be partially shut down as aggrieved workers prepare to ground major airlines over the sack of their members.

The airlines targeted by their workers’ unions are Arik Air, Bristow and Caverton Helicopters, which had all recently laid off employees.

Arik Air accounted for over 40 per cent of domestic operations in the month of September 2016, according to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) figures.

Bristow and Caverton Helicopters are both responsible for about 80 per cent of all charter services in the country, but had to downsize over downturn of economic fortunes.

Meanwhile, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) is making efforts to avert a shutdown of domestic operations. Sources yesterday told The Guardian that the operators are reaching out to the Minister of State for Aviation to intervene in the matter.

It was learnt that but for logistics that was not top-notch and non-availability of key members, the trio of National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) would have clamped down on the airlines in protest against some of their members that were sacked for various reasons.

Arik, for instance, has been having a face-off with the unions over the sack of some workers in October for engaging in union activities that were outlawed by the management.

General Secretary of NUATE, Adeyinka Abioye, confirmed that the union had issued an ultimatum to Arik, insisting on an immediate withdrawal of the sack order, which the operator had not complied with till date.

However, Arik Air spokesperson, Banji Ola, said that the airline was still not “unionised” and there should be no basis for the unions to threaten them with industrial action.

In the case of Caverton Helicopters, the unions are protesting against the sack of about 150 staffers. The unions alleged unfair treatment of their colleagues, who only received one-month salary as compensation after putting in over 10 years of service in the operations of Caverton.



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