NAAPE to ground operations over sack of 600 Aero Contractors’ workers
• Bird strike stalls Med-View’s Hajj operations in Ilorin
Pilots and engineers have threatened an imminent shutdown of local flight operations in protest of alleged anti-labour issues at Aero Contractors of Nigeria Limited.
The pilots and engineers, under the aegis of National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), said the strike is a protest against the sack of about 600 workers without any benefit.
A date for the strike was yet to be fixed. A nationwide shutdown of local scheduled and unscheduled operations will throw the industry into chaos, with huge revenue in billions lost by stakeholders.
Aero Contractors, currently under Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), in March sacked about 600 out of its 1,030 workers as part of its ongoing restructuring exercise to keep the airline afloat.
President of NAAPE, Abednego Galadima, said whereas they were displeased with the notification of redundancy served to its members, their understanding and the need to save the airlines from going under ensured various unions succumbed to negotiations of a redundancy package of affected workers.
Galadima said: “the Receiver Manager of Aero Contractors, under the prompting of AMCON, has crossed the line by his unguided action of unilaterally throwing the workers affected by the redundancy exercise out of the airline without paying them their redundancy benefits, even as meagre as these benefits are. This is a most wicked impunity. And it will not be allowed to stand.
“In keeping with our duties and mandate under the laws of Nigeria, NAAPE has decided to declare a nationwide strike action in demonstration of our abhorrence of the inhuman treatment being meted to the unfortunate Aero workers.’’
Public Relations Officer of the union, Francis Igwe, said they were not unaware of how dearly a national strike will cost the sector. However, it is incumbent on the Federal Government, relevant ministries and stakeholders to prevail on AMCON “to do the needful with regards to the rights of the workers of Aero Contractors in order to avert the imminent crisis of shutting down Nigeria’s aviation industry.”
Officials close to the Aero Receiver Manager, Capt. Ado Sanusi, told The Guardian yesterday that the manager indeed empathised with the workers but “the truth is that the airline has no money to pay their benefits.”
In a related development, bird strike on Med-View Airline’s Boeing 767 aircraft has forced the temporary halt and disruption of Hajj pilgrims’ airlift from Ilorin airport.
The bird strike incident happened Saturday night as the aircraft, with 222 pilgrims already onboard, was taxiing for takeoff, forcing the pilots to abort the flight.
Spokesperson of Med-View, Obuke Oyibotha, informed that the 222 pilgrims were de-boarded without incident following the bird strike, and arrangements were being made to provide another aircraft to airlift the pilgrims yesterday.
It could not, however, be confirmed as at the time of filing this report, if the pilgrims were airlifted as rescheduled.