January 23, (THEWILL) – Normalcy has returned at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), on Monday afternoon, following a meeting held to broker peace between the NAHCO management and the members of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and Air Transport Service Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN).
Part of the agreements reached so far in the meeting includes NAHCO withdrawing and vacating earlier court-obtained order; a counter offer of the union demands will be issued by NAHCO management before the end of business on Monday, January 23, 2023; negotiations of workers’ welfare will commence Wednesday; all staff to resume work immediately; all negotiations to conclude within one week and no worker would be victimised because of the strike action.
Already, Air Peace, one of the numerous clients of NAHCO is said to have lost over N500m due to the strike.
The airline management in a statement said that the ground handling company did not pre-inform them about the strike nor was a public notice issued.
“Neither NAHCO nor the striking union informed us of an impending strike. Our staff reported to work and noticed an ongoing industrial action. If we were informed beforehand, we would have conveyed the same to our passengers early enough.
“Now, all morning flights and other subsequent flights have been disrupted- cancelled, delayed and rescheduled. This has cost us over N500 million as we operate over 100 flights daily. Passengers are also attacking our ground staff as they cannot fly.
“We have notified the flying public of the strike but it is important to stress again that the action is by the staff of NAHCO, not Air Peace. It is an action against the Management of NAHCO, and Air Peace has nothing to do with it. “While we monitor the situation and hope things return to normal soon, we regret the impact of the disruptions on the travel plans of our passengers and implore them to desist from assaulting our staff. We are not responsible for the disruptions”, the airline stated.
Earlier, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Honourable Nnolim Nnaji, called for restraints over the industrial dispute between the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company, (NAHCO) and its workers.
Honourable Nnaji also urged the management of the ground Handling company to immediately enter into dialogue with the leadership of the union to avert further disruption of flight operations across the country.
He equally appealed to the union to douse its agitation and show concern for the pains the action would bring on innocent Nigerian travellers both locally and internationally.
Honourable Nnaji, who represents Nkanu East/West Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives reminded the workers that their downing tools at this time the elections were already closed could cause severe consequences to campaigns and movements of sensitive materials by the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC).
He further assured the workers that his Committee would reach out to the management to see how their grievances could be urgently addressed.
It would be recalled that aviation unions, NUATE and ATSSSAN last week gave a five–day notice of strike to NAHCO management citing slow progress in negotiation for salary review.
The company, which just promoted about 2,000 members of its workforce, asked that accelerated negotiation be continued in February, to enable the Company to stabilise from the financial effect of the recent promotions.
Undaunted, the unions gave notice of strike prompting the Management of the Company to seek court intervention to prevent the industrial action while negotiation proceeded in a serene and conducive atmosphere.
About the Author
Anthony Awunor, is a business correspondent who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Linguistics (UNILAG). He is also an alumnus of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria Kaduna State. He lives in Lagos.