NIGERIAN government aviation officials and private airline Air Peace have reached an agreement under which the company will reinstate some of the 100 pilots it recently laid off as part of a cost-cutting exercise in a bid to avoid nationwide industrial action.
Following the recent lockdown brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, Air Peace, like all other airlines suffered huge losses because its planes were grounded. In response, the airline decided to lay off 100 pilots and engineers but the action drew the ire of the National Association of Airline Pilots and Engineers (Naape).
Describing the airlines’ actions as insensitive, Naape gave Air Peace a two-week ultimatum to recall the sacked workers or face industrial action. In order to avert a nationwide strike that would cripple the aviation industry even further, government ministers decided to intervene in the matter and have now brokered a peace deal.
Aviation ministry spokesman James Odaudu, said that the management of Air Peace agreed to recall some of the pilots who lost their jobs. he pointed out that Allen Onyema, the Air Peace chairman agreed to recall the maximum number of pilots that his company could accommodate in the light of the current situation.
Mr Odaudu said: “In the verbal agreement reached after a dialogue that was held in a very friendly environment, the chairman of Air Peace, Chief Allen Onyema, acceded to the minister’s appeal for the recall of the maximum number of pilots that the airline can accommodate without going under. In their presentation, Naape, led by its chairman, Galadima Abednego, said that some mis-steps could have been made in the course of the standoff between the airline and the union and appealed to the minister to intervene in order to resolve the impasse.
“He said that as a union it was a painful thing to see a large number of their members thrown into the labour market and further appealed to employers of labour to see the union members as partners and not adversaries. Chief Allen Onyema expressed his sadness and disappointment over what he called the ingratitude of some of the airline’s pilots after everything was done to make them comfortable on their jobs.
“He recalled how Air Peace had trained over 80 pilots and an equal number of aircraft engineers, giving its staff the best remuneration package within the sector only for them to disappoint at a time their understanding was needed. He, however, commended the aviation minister Senator Hadi Sirika for providing the required leadership to the industry and promised his full cooperation in ensuring the growth of the aviation sector in Nigeria.
“The aviation minister in his remarks called for the understanding of everyone, especially the labour unions on the prevailing situation in the aviation industry, saying it was not the time for unnecessary upheavals. He commended Chief Onyema for his enormous contributions in developing the industry but appealed to him to recall the maximum number of the sacked pilots that the airline can comfortably accommodate in the prevailing circumstances to which airline operator agreed.”