Earlier today, the operations of Arik Air in receivership under the auspices of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) were shut down by the aviation unions over alleged non-payment of staff salaries since April. The protesting workers claimed that the non-payment started after the company placed 90 per cent of the workforce on compulsory leave and others, which the described as ‘anti-labour practices.’
The protesting unions are made up of members from the National Union of Air Transport Employees and Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria. It was gathered that all Arik Air operations in Lagos were shut down, including airlines, which could not fly today. Efforts made by our aviation correspondent to speak with Jude Nwauzor, the Head of Corporate Communications Department at AMCON did not yield as he could not respond to several calls to his mobile.
However, Mr Innocent Atasie, Chairman, ATSSSAN, Arik Air Branch told the NAN that the workers resolved to shut down Arik operations nationwide when all efforts made to resolve the problem failed. Atasie said the unions were miffed that there had been no payment of staff salaries since April after placing 90 per cent of the workforce on compulsory leave.
The unions said the strike would continue indefinitely until their demands are met by the management of Arik Air. Their demands included payment of outstanding salaries arrears, signing of Conditions of Service, remittance of Pension, Tax, and statutory deductions to the appropriate authorities, and to resolve other anti-labour issues.
Others are payment of salary arrears of seven months, with a commitment to paying salaries as and when due, henceforth. Atasie said the unions also wanted the immediate review of all employee remunerations which had remained stagnant since the inception of Arik Air, over ten years ago. He said that “the unions decided to shut down all operations nationwide when all efforts by the unions proved abortive.”
It would be recalled that just yesterday, the management of Arik Air asked for the intervention of the Minister of Labour Dr Chris Ngige and Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, over the planned industrial action by unions scheduled to commence on Monday September 14, 2020. The Chief Executive Officer of Arik, Capt. Roy Ilegbodu, made the appeal in a letter to the minister entitled, “Re-Unions in Arik Air threaten to down tools.”