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The Chief Executive Officer of Arik Air Limited, Roy Ilegbodo, has condemned the air transport employees for joining the aviation union for an impending strike which could affect the operation of Arik. Ilegbodo said the air transport employees are being unfair with their demand.
According to the Arik boss, the use of strike by the air transport employees to get their demand for a new independent retirement benefits without exhausting all engagement channels is wrong. He said the demands of air transport employees are not in line with the industry standard.
The air transport employees will join the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) for a planned strike which begins on Monday. In order to avoid the strike, Ilegbodo said the airline needs government intervention.
Ilegbodo said the demand for the air transport employees can't pass fairness test and might not necessarily favour the staff. He said the demand will result in unsustainable standard in the aviation industry. Ilegbodo said the demand is inconvenient for a loss-making company.
“It is, in fact, an abuse of the position of union leadership as the issues in dispute cannot pass the test of fairness and only affect, in the short term, less than 20 staff out of a workforce of over 1600.
“They request for an independent retirement benefits scheme that will be wholly funded by the airline where retiring, resigning, and terminated staff will receive a lump-sum payment upon exit that will in some cases double the joint contribution of management and staff under the Pension Act of 2004 as amended.
“While it is the right of staff to share in the prosperity of a company, the request for an additional retirement scheme from a loss-making company, in receivership and whose operations are supported by creditors over and above legal requirements is simply onerous.
“Given the cost-driven challenges in the aviation sector that have seen a majority of airlines fold up in the past years, the request by the unions will set an unsustainable standard for other airlines that are struggling to survive in these difficult times.
“Notwithstanding, management restates its commitment to appropriate staff welfare and will do its best to keep workers motivated within the limit of available resources,” Ilegbodo said this in a statement dated September 11, 2020.
He praised the support of fuel suppliers, aircraft parts suppliers, and various maintenance, repair and overhaul organisations (MRO), and stated that “This is the kind of understanding and support we urge all our staff to imbibe so that we can ride the times and soar”.
He called on the intervention of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, to resolve the disagreement. In the letter, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Musa Nahu, were also copied.
“We strongly believe that the threat of strike action without an exhaustive use of the various channels of engagement, discussion, consensus and understanding is faulty and unlikely to yield the best outcomes for staff, the company, and its faithful passengers," Ilegbodo said.
He also stated that “Honorable Minister Sir, we thank the umbrella body for Pilots and Engineers, National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) and the vast majority of staff for their understanding and cooperation as we navigate the post-COVID challenges.
“While we appeal that you intervene in seeking for the understanding and cooperation of the workers’ unions, we remain committed to protecting the airline and assure our stakeholders of a safe and conducive working environment. We shall also protect the interest of the flying public for a safe, friendly, and on time travelling experience,” his statement reads.
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