Capt. Roy Ilegbodu Arik Air Chief Executive Officer
Arik Air, which is in receivership under the auspices of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) following the threat by the aviation union’s to down tools tomorrow Monday, September 14, 2020 has written to the Minister of Labour and Employment. The letter we gathered is appealing to the minister for an intervention in seeking for the understanding and cooperation of the workers’ unions; while explaining some key issues in the disagreement. This is just as the airline states that the issues in dispute cannot pass the test of fairness and the unions’ leadership has abused their position without exhausting various channels of engagement, discussion, and consensus.
In a letter titled: “Re-Unions in Arik Air Threaten to Down Tools September,” which was dated September 11, 2020 written by Chief Executive Officer, Arik Air in Receivership, Captain Roy Ilegbodu and directed to the Honorable Minister of Labour and Employment, which had in copy the Honorable Minister of Aviation, and the Director General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
The letter strongly condemned the planned action saying, “We strongly believe that the threat of strike action without an exhaustive use of the various channels of engagement, discussion, consensus and understanding is faulty and unlikely to yield the best outcomes for staff, the company and its faithful passengers. It is in fact an abuse of the position of union leadership as the issues in dispute cannot pass the test of fairness and only affect, in the short term, less than 20 staff out of a work force of over 1600.
The letter further explained that prior to Arik Air Limited going into receivership employment letters basically detailed the approved emoluments of staff however, since the commencement of the receivership, this has been expanded by the introduction of policies to create best practice work environments to deliver top notch services.
The letter also stated that in addition, management has been in discussion with various staff groups and unions to have these policies codified into Staff Conditions of Service but the only area of conflict was a request by unions for a terminal benefit scheme over and above the requirements of the Pension Act.
The letter read,” The only outstanding area of difference is the request by the unions for a terminal benefit scheme over and above the requirements of the Pension Act. They request for an independent retirement benefit scheme that will be wholly funded by the airline where retiring, resigning and terminated staff will receive a lump sum payment upon exit that will in some cases double the joint contribution of management and staff under the Pension Act of 2004 as amended.
“While it is the right of staff to share in the prosperity of a company, the request for an additional retirement scheme from a loss making company, in receivership and whose operations are supported by creditors over and above legal requirements is simply onerous. Given the cost driven challenges in the aviation sector that have seen majority of airlines fold up in the past years, the request by the unions will set an unsustainable standard for other airlines that are struggling to survive in these difficult times.”
The letter continued,” Notwithstanding, management restates its commitment to appropriate staff welfare and will do its best to keep workers motivated within the limit of available resources. We can report with much gratitude that financial creditors have all suspended demands for repayment to ensure the stability of the airline. We are also enjoying the support of fuel suppliers, aircraft parts suppliers and various Maintenance, Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul organizations (MRO) while carefully managing the COVID-19 challenge. This is the kind of understanding and support we urge all our staff to imbibe so that we can ride the times and soar.”