The National Union of Air Transport Employees, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, on Thursday disrupted the operations of Arik Air over labor related issues.
The union members were said to have arrived the airline’s headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos as early as 4.00am.
The union members barricaded the entrance to the airline’s office despite the presence of armed policemen, and also prevented oil marketers from supplying aviation fuel to the airline as part of their planned picketing.
The NUATE Secretary General, Mr. Olayinka Abioye, had told journalists on Wednesday that the new management of the airline was intolerant of unionism and also had pending issues concerning its workers.
Ironically, some of the airline’s workers countered the protesters on Thursday, saying that they did not mandate the unions to fight for them.
Some of them carried placards that read, ‘Arik must survive’, ‘Wrong timing, please go’ and ‘Arik staff say no to unionism for now’, among others.
Since the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria took over Arik Air, the airline has cut down its flight operations to 30 per cent and the management has been able to pay one out of the two months’ salaries the former management of the airline owed the staff members.
Meanwhile, new the management of Arik Air has threatened to take every legal measure at its disposal to stop further interference in its operations.
The Media Consultant to AMCON for Arik Air, Simon Tumba, said the motive of picketing the airline was not clear to the management and that the action of the unions was illegal.
He said, “It has come to the attention of the Arik management (under receivership) that the Lagos State branch of the National Union of Air Transport Employees, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and National Association of Aircraft Pilot and Engineers have directed their members to picket Arik airline. We hasten to say that the motive of this picketing is unclear to the management and their action is, therefore, illegal.
“Arik is under receivership following various challenges experienced over the last few years, which include delays and cancellation of flights, delays in payment of salaries and huge debts to trade creditors and suppliers, bad corporate governance and a host of others.”