Airport reopening: Unions shut down Arik Air operations

Arik Air saw its operation on Monday shut down by the aviation unions over alleged non payment of staff salaries.

The union claimed that Arik Air refused to pay its workers since April after placing 90 per cent of the workforce on compulsory leave and other anti-labour practices.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the unions included the National Union of Air Transport Employees and Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria.

A NAN Correspondent who monitored the situation in Lagos reports that all Arik Air operations were shut down, including airlines, as passengers expressed reservations.

Mr Innocent Atasie, Chairman, ATSSSAN, Arik Air Branch, told NAN that the workers resolved to shut down Arik operations nationwide when all efforts made to resolve the problem failed.

Atasie said the unions were miffed that there had been no payment of staff salaries since April after placing 90 per cent of the workforce on compulsory leave.

The unions said the strike would continue indefinitely until their demands were met by the management of Arik Air.

Their demands include payment of outstanding salaries arrears, signing of Conditions of Service, remittance of Pension, Tax and statutory deductions to the appropriate authorities and resolution of other anti-labour issues.

Others are payment of salary arrears of seven months and a commitment to pay salaries as at when due henceforth.

Atasie said the unions also wanted the immediate review of all employee remunerations, which had remained stagnant since the inception of Arik Air over 10 years ago.

He said the unions decided to shut down all operations nationwide when all efforts to resolve the issues were aborted.

NAN reports that on September 13, the management of Arik Air asked for the intervention of the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, over the planned industrial action by unions scheduled to commence on September 14.

The Chief Executive Officer of Arik, Captain Roy Ilegbodu, made the appeal in a letter to the minister, entitled: “Re-Unions in Arik Air threaten to down tools.”

NAN visit to local terminals in Lagos indicated that stranded Arik Air passengers expressed disappointment over the airlines shut down without informing the passengers.

A passenger, Julius Anifowoshe, told NAN: “l was shocked when l came to the airport at about 6:30am to board and found out that the airline workers are on strike without due notification.

“I am forced to buy another ticket from another airline to meet up with my appointment in Abuja.

“Government should sanction Arik Air for not reaching out through text messages or e-mail to customers on the planned s

trike.

“I am going to seek refund of my money whenever I’m back to Lagos.

“Arik Air took customers for granted.”

Another passenger, Beatrice Ikechukwu, expressed disappointment over the sudden shut down of the operations without due notice to passengers.

Ikechukwu said: “l have to source for money to buy another ticket for what l d

id not plan for.

“Arik Air operational system is porous.

“Nobody came to address passengers on what was happening.

“This is really pathetic and disheartening.”

However, Adebanji Ola, the Communications Manager of Arik Air, said the management has scheduled a meeting with the unions for September 15 to resolve all matters.