The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) has threatened to declare trade dispute with seven domestic airlines in the country following their inability to allow their employees to join the labour unions.
Just as the body has declared a nationwide strike action against the management of Aero contractors in demonstration of its abhorrence of the inhuman treatment being meted out to unfortunate Aero workers.
At its maiden press conference held in Lagos over the weekend, the new president of NAAPE, Engr Abednego Galadima named Dana Air, Medview airline, Azman, Overland airways, FirstNation, Air Peace and Jed air as the airlines billed for picketing on a date to be announced soon.
According to Galadima, the airlines have refused to comply with the law on unionization by not allowing workers to belong to unions stressing that the airlines have continued to hold their workers in slave labour without conditions and scheme of service.
“Such denial of recognition to our union, and denial of the rights of the workers to belong to the union of their choice contravene sections of the labour Act as well as fundamental principles of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We shall no longer condone this lawless behavior by airlines.”
Galadima warned that the impeding strike will commence after consultations with various unions and the United Labour Congress and called on well meaning Nigerians to intervene in the Aero contractors in order to avoid imminent crisis of shutting down Nigeria’s aviation industry.
He noted that the declaration of redundancy by the management of Aero contractors was a bitter pill to swallow adding that the workers were yet to be paid their redundancy package.
“The receiver manager of Aero contractors, under the prompting of AMCON, has crossed the line by his unguided action of unilaterally throwing the workers affected by the redundancy exercise out of the airline without paying them their redundancy benefits.”
NAAPE, while condemning the high level of unemployment of pilots and engineers in the country, said it was a pathetic case of waste of skilled manpower after their expensive professional trainings.
The association described as unfortunate the intervention of AMCON in Aero contractors with a very negative impact as the fortunes of the airline further plummeted due to mismanagement of resources leading to more questionable transactions.
On the issue of the autonomy of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), NAAPE urged urged federal government to to immediately commence the process of freeing the agency from its apron strings by bringing about its governing board in accordance with its Act without further delay.
Galadima explained that NCAA does not need ministerial approval for training, recruitment, promote and generally manage its personnel while no approval should be needed to implement budget and carry out its regulatory functions without recourse to the ministry.
NAAPE president decried lack of capacity by the NCAA to effectively fulfill its mandate with respect to economic regulations.
NAAPE also expressed its support for the establishment of a privately driven national carrier and for the concession of four international airports but stated that government must settle all labour issues as far as workers of the airports are concerned.
Galadima, in his statement said,” NAAPE’s support for a national carrier is premised on the fact that only by such means can a carrier of mega status be birthed in Nigeria to offer the nation competitive edge against the onslaught of other global carriers whose present competitive advantages rob the country of the economic benefits of its natural aviation related endowments.”
“NAAPE is also in staunch support of Federal Government’s effort to concession four international airports. NAAPE believes that government is too constrained of funds, considering the numerous social demands, to be able to fund airport development to the desired level of international competitiveness, whereas such level is urgently needed to drive Nigeria’s desire to become the West African aviation hub.”
He further stated that the issue of concession is a fait accompli by virtue of the agreements entered into as part of china’s involvement in the ongoing airport building.