Flights disrupted, passengers stranded as aviation union begins 2-day warning strike

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Travellers across Nigeria have been left stranded as the Aviation unions begin a two-day warning strike.

The development is coming against the backdrop of what they described as ‘unpalatable’ working conditions and entitlements.

The unions involved include the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN); the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) and the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP).

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It was gathered that members of the unions after their meeting with the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) ended in a stalemate blocked the entrance to the Murtala Muhammad Airport domestic terminal, leaving many passengers stranded.

NCAA’s Director-General, Civil Aviation, Capt. Musa Nuhu, had called on the union to shelve their planned two-day warning strike with representatives of the unions in attendance.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Dr. Emmanuel Meribole who was also at the meeting, also urged the union to halt planned strike action.

But the union disregarded the appeal and insisted on going ahead with their warning strike.

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The workers are demanding the approval and implementation of the condition of service (CoS), as agreed between them and the Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), the office of the head of civil service of the federation, and other agencies.

Others are the non-implementation of minimum wage consequential adjustments and arrears for the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet) since 2019 and the planned demolition exercise of all the agency buildings in Lagos by the minister of aviation for an airport city project.

In a memo signed by the leadership of the five unions, the workers said an indefinite strike would ensue if the two-day warning strike fails.

However, in an interview with newsmen, the Deputy General Secretary of ATSSSAN, Comrade Frances Akinjole said: “As I am talking to you, nothing has changed. If you don’t hear anything from the General Secretary, the strike continues.

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“The strike goes as planned.”

The strike has since commenced across all airports in Nigeria with many passengers stranded. Many of the passengers were seen trekking to the airport as the unions blocked exit to the domestic terminal one and the MMA2.

Security operatives, including police and military officers, are on the ground as the unions sing solidarity songs.

Meanwhile, The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) have advised travellers and stakeholders to make contingency plans in order to avoid missing their appointments.

This was contained in a statement on Monday in Abuja.

The agency said the management of NAIA would open the airport for operation as usual, but warned that passengers may experience “disruptions in flight operations as a result of the planned strike action”.

The aviation authority expressed regret over any inconvenience that passengers may face.

“The management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, wishes to inform the general public of the aviation union’s planned two-day warning strike scheduled to start Monday April 17, 2023,” FAAN said.

“Intending passengers and stakeholders are kindly advised and note so as to make contingency plans in order to avoid missing their flights and appointments. Any inconvenience experienced is highly regretted.”

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