Minister Says Threat Of Strike By Unions Stagnating Aviation Sector 

Sirika: Airlines, Others Owe Aviation Agencies N37bnTHISDAYLIVE

Yemisi Izuora

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has expressed disappointment with attitude of aviation unions which often issue warning of industrial actions especially over Conditions of Services, CoS.

The Minister said the sector can only grow if the unions work with aviation agencies Management for the recovery of the industry and its growth.

Sirika, who stated this while speaking during the third national delegate conference of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN), held in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State at the weekend said the serious challenge posed by COVID-19 demands that all stakeholders work together to fashion out a viable pathway to a strong and healthy aviation industry that will offer everybody, including workers the desired dividends.

He said the forecast growth for the Nigeria Air Transport market was 174% in the next 20 years and if met, would have supported approximately $4.7 billion of GDP and over 555,000 jobs.

“We are in a period of recovery, so this is not the time for threats and spate of industrial actions which will only further inhibit the growth the industry so badly needs.

The Minister represented  by the Commissioner of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Engr. Akin Olateru at the event noted that, the pandemic hit and aviation became one of the major casualties of COVID-19 and that in an industry that is known for low margins, especially the airline sector where labor is one of the largest cost, lowering labor costs is very attractive.

He said, the sector is in a period of recovery, so this is not the time for threats and spate of industrial actions which he insists will only further inhibit the growth the industry so badly needs.

“IATA records show that as of 2018, air transport in Nigeria supported 241,000 jobs with a gross value added to GDP of US $1.7b. The forecast growth for the Nigeria Air Transport market was 174% in the next 20 years. If met, this would support approximately $4.7 billion of GDP and over 555,000 jobs.

The Aviation Minister said, the unions have a critical role to play in the growth and sustenance of the aviation industry, as their members constitute the majority of the workers who toil day and night to ensure the smooth running of the industry.

“It is agreed that unions exist to serve the interests of their members. However, in an industry that is known for low margins, especially the airline sector where labor is one of the largest cost, lowering labor costs becomes very attractive and unions will always kick. Yet, the industry needs labour just as labour needs the industry.

He added, “The government, employers and labour must work together for the best interest of the aviation industry. This is what can guarantee job security and prosperity for stakeholders”.

“In 2020, at the peak of the pandemic, the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) representing aviation and other transport workers worldwide, joined forces with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), who represents aviation employers , to chart a course for the future of aviation”.

Sirika appealed to the unions to work together to save aviation and keep the global supply chains going, promising that, they will continue to carry labour along in policies as strategic moves to reposition the industry.

“We also expect the unions to reciprocate this gesture with a bit more consideration and support in the best interest of the aviation sub sector”.

“Our unions and aviation management should prioritise collaborative dialogue to ensure the industry’s financial health and the consequent preservation and growth which will eventually enable aviation employers provide acceptable conditions of service to their workers”.

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