By Meletus EZE
Aviation workers under the aegis of National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), on Friday, protested against “poor condition of service’’.
In the protest staged at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the workers accused the National Salaries and Wages Commission (NSWC) of frustrating the review of their conditions of service for about 15 years.
The 3rd National Vice President of NUATE, Mr Chris Omagbemi, said that the protest was to sensitise the public, particularly air travellers to impending consequences if the condition of service was not approved.
Omagbemi explained that the protesting workers were drawn from Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).
He said that the condition of service for NiMet had not been approved since 2003 while those of FAAN, NCAA, NAMA and AIB had been with the commission since 2001.
According to him, condition of service is supposed to be reviewed every five years but NSWC had refused to effect the review without any cogent reasons.
“The condition of service of all the aviation agencies have been held hostage by the commission and we are only sensitising the government and the general public to what is going on.
“Salaries and wages commission has become a demi-god, so people should know that if tomorrow the aviation workers decide to go on strike, they should know why.
“Before now, the commission said they would want to harmonise the allowances of FAAN, NAMA and NCAA but we have explained to them why that will not be possible because they have different specialisations.
“For that of NiMet, only God knows the reason because since 2003 they have been renewing it and the commission held it for just no reason.
“While the one of 2003 was with them, we renewed the one of 2008; they also held it and that of 2013 also, till date for no cogent reason,” he said.
Omagbemi said that the workers would take their protest to the commission and Ministry of Labour and Employment to press home their demands.
ATSSSAN Chairman, Mr Samuel Wuyep, said that the union would take a step further by shutting down operations in the airport if nothing was done to address the issue.
Wuyep said the union would make a statement during the 2019 general elections if their agitations were not resolved.
Mr Utori Sunday, a member of NUATE, said that the protest was to let the public to know that the unions had what it took to disrupt movement of materials for the 2019 elections.
According to him, if the union shuts down airports, election materials will not move.
“When we said they should answer us we mean business and they have no reason to hold our condition of service because everything has been done, safe for the approval by the wages commission,” he said.