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Airline passengers stranded as aviation unions shut down Arik Air operations

Operations of Arik Air have been shut down by the aviation unions over alleged non-payment of staff salaries since April after placing 90 percent of the workforce on compulsory leave.

The aggrieved unions included the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN).

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

Atasie said the unions are unhappy that staff salaries have not been paid since April after placing 90 percent 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 to resolve other anti-labour issues.

Others were payment of salary arrears of seven months with a commitment to pay salaries as at when due, henceforth.

Atasie said the unions also want an immediate review of all employee remunerations which has remained stagnant since the inception of the airline.

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

The airline has been under receivership of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) since February 2017 after the airline could no longer meet its debt obligations.

In a September 13, 2020, letter, the airline’s managers had written to the ministers of labour and aviation to intervene in the planned industrial action by the unions.

Julius Anifowoshe, a passenger, expressed shock at the incident.

“l was shocked when l came to the airport at about 6.30a.m., to board and found out that the airline workers are on strike without due notification,” he told NAN.

“I’m now 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 strike.

“I’m going to seek a refund of my money whenever am back to Lagos. Arik Air took customers for granted.”

Adebanji Ola, Arik Air communications manager, said the management has scheduled a meeting with the unions on September 15 to resolve all matters.

NAN.