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Aviation workers halt Nigeria Eagle airline operations over Arik labour issues

The National Union of Air Transport Employees(NUATE) has vowed  not allow the planned airline NG Eagle, allegedly  by the Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) to fly if all the labour issues concerning the workers of Arik Air were not addressed.

The union appealed to the Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Aviation, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and other stakeholders to intervene to tackle the labour matters in Arik Air before planning  to another airline.

NUATE made this known through its General Secretary, Comrade Aba Ocheme today at a congress held at Arik Air Murtala Muhammed Airport(MMA)Lagos

The General Secretary said that NUATE as an aviation trade union, considers the planned setting up of airline to be a very positive and welcome development, adding that a new airline would normally create job opportunities, provide incentives for deeper business penetration and generally widen the Nigerian aviation horizon and that to these extent, all stakeholders, NUATE inclusive, must extend warm welcome to the NG Eagle when it finally unveils.

He , however, added that there are ominous signs that what should ordinarily be a lofty project will likely run into a heavy storm being created by a thoroughly fouled and convoluted industrial atmosphere at Arik Air.

According to him, “We consider it most unfortunate that an odd combination of AMCON’s egoistic, evasive and self-defeating tendencies on the one hand, and Arik Air’s unrelenting penchant for courting crisis on the other hand, as well as severally demonstrated lack of capacity/disdain for labour relations practice have evoked a perplexing atmosphere of forlornness in the Airline. Under this atmosphere, it is practically impossible to be hopeful of any good thing. Hence, our misgivings concerning NG Eagle.”

The union wants to know why AMCON , who is receivership of two airlines  Arik Air and Aero Contractors, with 60 per cent stake in Aero would be floating another Airline, adding that there is more to what the union is seeing

“We have it on good authority that AMCON’s real intention is to sidestep the debt overhang, particularly in Arik air, while continuing to make money from the airline business without any real capital injection. This it intends to achieve by moving all valuable assets of Arik Air, including human assets, into the new NG Eagle. The questions are, what becomes of the carcass of Arik Air and its personnel after such evil wind?

“Presently, AMCON has already moved some Personnel of Arik Air to NG Eagle while being loudly silent on the service records of such personnel in Arik Air. What happens to the previous years of service, or how assured is the security of such service in their new assignments? Or, shall such service be in vain?”

“AMCON and the management of Arik have arrogated to themselves the powers to probate and reprobate all issues pertaining to status of employees in this ingenious business melodrama, with complete disregard to subsisting collective bargaining agreements and relevant labour laws. Is NUATE expected to cheer them on to the neglect of its responsibilities and obligations to its members in the airline?

“If this conundrum by AMCON will lead to depopulation of the employed and increase in poverty, as is clearly established, shouldn’t one wonder why the Government and its relevant agencies appear to either be acquiescent or in actual aid of the furtherance of the obnoxious objective? Are we permitted to ask of our leaders the rationale behind the uninhibited aiding and abetting of this social-economic criminality?”

The union stated that while committing the societal aspects of this brazen effrontery to the court of public opinion and urging urgent intervention by appropriate government agencies: Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Aviation, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and among others .

“We have raised the labour aspects before the management of Arik Air as trade disputes. Should the management raise itself to the needed open mindedness and heartedness then we are willing and desirous of resolving them amicably as expected of progressive social partners. Then we shall welcome NG Eagle with our Solidarity Song and pop champagne,” the union said.

NUATE  warned that in the event that the reverse of the above is the case, then, “we shall sing our Solidarity Song as a call to the struggle to fight for the rights of Arik Air’s long suffering employees. The ball is in their court.”

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