By G9ija

Workers at the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and aviation unions have issued an ultimatum to their management over welfare and unpaid benefits. The aggrieved staffers, rising from a congress this week, gave NAMA management till February 28, to clear all outstanding or face industrial actions in protest.

The congress, which had management members in attendance, specifically demanded that funds be raised to settle workers’ outstandings, such as the payment of Year 2020 productivity allowance, the 13th-month salary, accrued pensions for senior citizens and immediate payment of furniture grants.

The workers alleged that low premiums had been placed on the health of staffers, especially as manifested in the management’s inability to get its workforce on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)

They also lamented that the work done, such as various official trips and other claims, should be attended to with dispatch as continuing denial would suffocate workers’ commitment that enabled the agency to provide safe, prompt and economical air navigation services to the airlines and other consumers.

Unions’ leaderships present were the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical And Recreational Employees (AUPCTRE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), and the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP).

The management, though did not deny the outstanding, said the delay in meeting them was due to business downturn and paucity of funds. It will be recalled that the COVID-19 pandemic and attendant lockdown brought devastating effects to the industry with the service providers struggling to pay salaries. Recently, The Guardian learnt that NAMA, with the help of the Minister of Aviation, had to borrow to pay the salary of workers.

“Though we are better-off than last year, we are not yet out of the financial woods. Once our financial status gets better, we will meet workers’ needs,” a top official said.
Secretary-General of ANAP, AbdulRazaq Seidu, observed that at the centre of all disputes was the unaddressed workers’ condition of service.

Seidu said if the condition of service was released, a lot of issues would naturally take their courses without any hues and cries from any quarter as both parties would have been appropriately guided and friction would have been drastically reduced, if not eliminated.

He said that as long as the document – condition of service – is kept in the cooler, so long would altercation persist between the management and the workers. He, however, urged NAMA’s management to engage its supervisory ministry, aviation ministry, so as to find means to meet its financial obligation to the workers and avert industrial action that will disrupt the entire air transport operations, “which we the union abhor”.

The scribe berated the sense of judgment of the leadership of the aviation ministry that compelled all agencies to relocate headquarters to Abuja at a time of pandemic and without consideration for workers’ well-being.

Following deliberations on the issues and interactions with the management, the unions issued an ultimatum and a statement jointly signed by the Branch Chairmen of the four Unions. The unions stated that they were not satisfied with management’s response that particularly did not state the timeline for the implementation of demands.

“After deliberating on these issues, the unions and their members were not satisfied with management’s response particularly for not stating a timeline for the implementation of the highlighted issues.

“Therefore, the unions and their members resolved to give management an ultimatum for complete implementation of the above mentioned issues on or before 28th February 2021 otherwise industrial dispute will be declared,” the statement read in part.