The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, (NAAPE) has threatened to embark on nationwide strike over the non-payment of redundancy benefits to workers that were laid off from Aero Contractors.
It was part of the agreement during the disengagement of the workers that the company would pay the aforementioned benefits but it was gathered from the new Aero management that it does not have the funds to fulfill that promise; although it is disposed to pay the benefits when funds are available.
But NAAPE said the strike action would commence at a soon-to-be announced date after it finalises consultation with other aviation unions and stakeholders in the industry.
Speaking at a press conference in Lagos at the weekend, the National President of NAAPE, Abednego Galadima, alledged that the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, (AMCON), the receiver manager of Aero Contractors has not paid workers affected by the redundancy exercise their redundancy benefits till date.
According to Galadima, “In defence of the rights of the workers of Aero Contractors, as well as 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.”
He said the association is inviting the government and other relevant bodies 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.
The president who also observed the high level of unemployment of pilots and engineers in Nigeria, suggested that to address the problem, government needs to encourage or assist in the development of Maintenance Repair Organisations (MRO) and give serious consideration to bringing forth the General Aviation by facilitating the granting of low interest capital and providing enabling environment.
On the issue of allocating five per cent of the Passenger Service Charge (PCS) to fund the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), which was approved by the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, Galadima said the association supports this as it is a step in the right direction.
He explained that the task of modern accident investigation is very exerting, requiring high tech equipment and high calibre personnel, adding that it is inherently a costly venture which cannot be handled adequately in an atmosphere of limited funding.
Galadima promised that NAAPE would give support to the federal government’s effort to midwife a private sector national carrier and concession the four international airports in Nigeria.
He noted that these developments would create employment for pilots, engineers, and other professionals in the industry.