Arik Air, West and Central Africa’s largest carrier today suffer huge loss of revenue as all its operations both local and international were shut down by unions in the nigeria aviation industry for failure to pay seven months salaries.
The development led to many of the airline passengers stranded across airports in the country as well in west Africa countries and in London, South Africa and New York.
The aviation unions under the aegis of National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and Air Traffic Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSAN) occupied the airline’s head office premises and preventing staff from gaining access to their workplace.
The representatives of the protesting unions also prevented the staff of the airline from gaining access to the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, disabling the checking-in of passengers for both domestic and international flights.
The unions are protesting the non-unionisation of Arik Air staff, refusal to recall all sacked employees who are alleged victimised for their roles in the effort to bring about unionisation in Arik Air.
Others are Payment of salary arrears of seven months , Immediate review of all employee remunerations which have remained the same since inception of Arik Air over ten years ago, Immediate commencement of negotiations of Conditions of Service to be concluded within four (4) weeks, Remittance of Pension, Tax, and statutory deductions to the appropriate authorities and The management of Arik complies with Nigerian Expatriate Quota law.
Reacting to the development in a statement, the airline said, “Arik Air expresses its dismay and disappointment that a group of aviation unions have ambushed and disrupted the operations of the airline from early hours of Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by Access to the airport terminals is fundamental to the airline’s operations for movement of its personnel to ready and dispatch our aircraft for various flights”.
The statement added,”The union leadership had earlier written a letter to the management of Arik Air on their grievances and a meeting had been scheduled between the two parties for Wednesday, December 21, 2016. The unions however did not wait for the scheduled meeting or the outcome of the meeting, before embarking on such disruptive and strong-arm tactics against the airline. The unions have demonstrated total disregard for the laws of Federal Republic of Nigeria by interfering in the operations of the airline and preventing airline staff from carrying on with their duties of handling the passengers booked for today’s flights”.
The decision not to join the aviation unions is that of the generality of Arik Air and the management of the airline is not involved in any manner and neither can it influence such individual decisions in any form since Unionism is a free will and not a matter of compulsion.
Arik Air is appealing to all the Security Agencies, the Minister of Aviation, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and all the other stakeholders in the industry to prevail on these aviation unions to allow for operations to commence immediately since this unjustifiable disruption by the unions has already inconvenienced the travel plans of thousands of passengers today.
Arik Air sincerely apologise to its esteemed passengers for any inconvenience experienced due to this unwarranted disruption and unlawful action by the unions.