By G9ija

Aviation unions on Thursday embarked on a warning strike after it failed to reach a resolution with the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria over a proposed strike action.

The aviation unions consisting of the National Union of Air Transport Employees, Air Transport Services Senior Association of Nigeria and the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals had on October 7 threatened to go on strike in seven days over increasing delays and staggering of salary payment.

They carried out their threat by blocking the entrance to the headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria by 6am, ahead of a town hall meeting called by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, to discuss the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic on the agency.

An advance party comprising the Managing Director of FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, and Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, Captain Musa Nuhu, and other directors were not allowed into the venue of the town hall meeting inside the Freedom Square.

It was also learnt that the Minister of Aviation who had intended to address the staff directly had earlier landed and proceeded to Caverton Helicopters where he inspected facilities but did not proceed to the Freedom Square.

Speaking on behalf of other unions, the General Secretary, NUATE, Ocheme Aba, lamented that workers had been denied remuneration for months.

He said, “The workers of FAAN have been denied their full remunerations for several months. They have been paying their salaries in a haphazard manner and the deductions to cooperatives which many of the workers invest in has not been remitted for years.

“It is on record that some staff of the authority contribute about 80 per cent of their salary to the cooperative. When you pay the salary without remitting to the particular cooperative they are associated with, it means such people have earned only 20 per cent of their salary because the other means by which they have to complement their activities through the cooperatives is denied. For a number of months, we have been battling this situation to no avail.

“Last month, they paid the junior staff. They paid the senior staff two weeks later and they paid only 50 per cent. In this period, when you give someone salary under that atmosphere, it is like not giving any salary at all. At this moment, it is on record that it is only the workers of FAAN that are not earning salaries normally which is very unfortunate.”

Aba also noted that the concession policy of the Federal Government would shortchange Nigeria and Nigerians.

He said, “The workers have said vehemently that it is over their dead body that this concession will see the light of day.

“We have tried to explain to them why this particular model of concession that the minister is trying to apply will shortchange Nigerians and Nigeria. We have explained particularly that these four airports are already concessioned airports. They are concessioned to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation who are building the terminals.

“The CCECC and FAAN already have an arrangement of sharing the proceeds from the terminals. If you now concession these terminals to another individual, who will pay the 60 per cent of the proceeds on these terminals- this means you are leaving FAAN with 40 per cent from which they will have to pay for the loan, return 25 per cent to the Federal Government based on the Fiscal Responsibility Act and they also have to maintain the other 18 airports.