Aviation unions today locked out the Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika as they embarked on a warning strike (administrative strike) to demand full salaries for the staff of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and stoppage of the planned concession of major airports in the country by the Aviation Minister.
The Minister was not the only one locked out by unions, as the Minister’s foot soldiers comprising the Managing Director of FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu and Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority ( NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu and other directors were barred from gaining entrance into the venue of the meeting with workers.
Attempts for them to plead with the workers fell on deaf ears as they were not ready to allow any of them into the venue.
As at the time of compiling this report, it was learned that the Minister was relaxing in the MD of FAAN’s house, apparently to also buy time and see if he can placate the unions.
The lockout of the both the Minister, agency chiefs, and some directors were carried out by unions comprising the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), and Association of Nigeria Aviation Professional (ANAP) made this accusation in a statement signed by the General Secretary NUATE, Comrade Ocheme Aba, Deputy General Secretary, ATSSSAN, Comrade Frances Akinjole, and Secretary-General ANAP, Comrade Abdul Rasaq Saidu.
The unions which gathered workers of the FAAN at the Freedom Square had shut all the gates leading to FAAN preventing people from either going out or coming in.
The warning strike was restricted to the administrative activities while other activities were going on.
At the Freedom Square, protesting workers, who defied the scorching were seen carrying placards with the different inscriptions such as, “Pay us our full salaries immediately, The Concession is a fraud to partition FAAN to his cronies, What really is the Minister concessions? The concession is dead on arrival among others, while the placards were accompanied with solidarity songs to ginger the workers.
Addressing the workers, the General Secretary NUATE, Comrade Ocheme Aba, stated that the two issues that brought workers of FAAN to the Square are the issue of remuneration and concession of major airports in the country.
He told the workers that the unions have communicated to the Ministry of Aviation several but that it did not yield any fruitful results and these they have also done at different levels and that yet the desired results were not achieved.
These issues, the NUATE Scribe said have impacted negatively on FAAN workers, adding while Federal Government workers in other agencies across the country are earning full salaries only FAAN according to him are not earning full salaries.
FAAN, he said, should be paid their full salaries, stressing that despite EFFORTS made by workers during COVID-19, the workers are still denied their full salaries, wondering why it should be so.
The NUATE Secretary said that the workers have tolerated the management enough and that the workers can no longer bear the pains.
According to him, “We have made several efforts but these efforts have not yielded the desired results. We organized the warning strike to the extent that the operations of the airport are not affected. Now it is difficult for employees of FAAN to come to work because the situation is getting very difficult. We will stop work if, after another week, the issues are not addressed.”
He said that the unions are waiting to see if the management of FAAN will fulfill its promises to workers
Aba thanked the workers for their courage and for speaking with one voice, urging them to continue to support their representatives in the various unions.
On his part, the Deputy General Secretary, ATSSSAN, Comrade Frances Akinjole said that Comrade Aba has said it all but he would not want to start repeating what he has said.
He stated that FAAN management has no right to deny FAAN workers their full salaries since other government agencies were paid full salaries, assuring workers that the unions would continue to do what is right at all times.
He disclosed that there was an impromptu meeting yesterday but that despite its impromptu nature the unions still attended the meeting but that nothing concrete came out of it.
Akinjole stated that union members would always attend the meeting called by either FAAN or the Ministry of Aviation no matter how sudden the meetings are but that the workers should trust their leaders.
We will always attend meetings when they invite us (unions) so that we will have something to report back to you. We will always consult you. This warning strike is not only FAAN management but for all the other agencies in the sector.”
Also speaking, the Secretary-General ANAP, Comrade Abdul Rasaq Saidu, said that the issues that needed to ironed out among the unions have been addressed and that the unions are on the same page
Speaking further, the ANAP scribe said that the unions in any branch have the powers to address issues if there is any and that the parent bodies can only come in if the branches are not able to resolve the issues.
Recalled about two weeks ago the unions had issued a seven-day ultimatum to the FAAN) declaring a dispute and demanding payment of salaries and gratuities.