DOMESTIC flights have been disrupted across Nigeria as aviation unions have embarked upon a strike to protest the owing of five month salary arrears to staff of Arik Air that was taken over by the federal government in 2017.
Heavily indebted, Arik Air was taken over by the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (Amcon), who have been running its operation over recent years. However, since April, Amcon has not paid Arik Air’s workers and has placed 90% of its workforce on compulsory leave.
In response, aviation unions including the National Union of Air Transport Employees (Nuate) and the Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) have called their members out on strike. All Arik Air operations in Lagos State have been shut down, with the staff vowing to remain on strike until their issues are addressed.
Innocent Atasie, the chairman of the Arik Air branch of ATSSSAN, said that the workers resolved to shut down Arik operations nationwide when all efforts made to resolve the problem failed. He added that the unions were miffed that there had been no payment of staff salaries since April after placing 90% of the workforce on compulsory leave.
Passengers affected by the shutdown of Arik Air activities have accused the airline of disrupting their plans and non-communication. Aviation unions have blocked the operations of the airline and vowed to maintain their ground until their demands are met.
Apart from the payment of outstanding salaries arrears, other issues the unions have include the signing of conditions of service, the remittance of pensions, tax and statutory deductions to the appropriate agencies. They also want a commitment of salary payment as at when due, as well as an immediate review of all employee remunerations, which have been stagnant for over a decade.
Arik Air’s management has urged aviation minister Hadi Sirika, to wade in the matter. Captain Roy Ilegbodu, Arik’s chief executive has sent a letter titled Re-Unions in Arik Air Threaten to Down Tools, to Mr Sirika, asking him to come to their aid.