The industrial action embarked upon by the National Union of Air Transport Employees over poor working condition grounded Arik Air operations on Thursday, causing several passengers to be stranded.
The protesting workers blocked the entrance of the airline’s headquarters, carrying placards with different inscriptions. Some of the inscriptions read, “End Arik Brutality,” and “Sign Our Condition of Services and Recall All Staff.”
The workers alleged that several members of staff had been furloughed, and that pensions were being owed
The State Secretary of NUATE, Ijeh Anthony explained that the issue had lingered for long, vowing to continue the industrial action till all demands were met.
According to him, the contentious issue is the signing of the conditions of service which they have been negotiating for the past three years.
He said, “The only aspect remaining in the CoS is the issue of the severance package. We have sought interventions rom the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. However, in most discussions, Arik Air Management will always renege.”
Anthony stressed that the management decision to operate with lesser staff was also part of the reasons for the strike. He narrated that at the beginning of the lockdown, Arik Air Management decided to send 80 per cent of the workforce on compulsory leave and in the process of engagement, they agreed to pay 20 per cent of their salaries for all the workers involved.
The State Secretary of NUATE added that all other airlines have called their workers back post COVID-19 but Arik Air Management have decided to run on 20 per cent while 80 per cent are still at home.
He said, “The pressure now is that workers at home are now agitating. The flight frequencies have increased, we have higher fares and we are opening new routes, so why are you keeping us at home?”
Anthony disclosed that at the last meeting, they demanded that the people at home should be called to resume because their absence is contributing to more pressure on those at work. He also mentioned that during the pandemic, Arik Air was distributing palliative to the host community when the workers were grossly unhappy.
Anthony concluded that the union was not happy having to tow the path of flight disruptions but that was the only choice they had.