By Al-Amin Ciroma
The staff of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and aviation unions have bilaterally issued an ultimatum to their management over welfare and unpaid benefits. It was reported that the distressed workers, rising from a congress recently, gave NAMA management till February 28, to ensure all outstanding benefits are cleared, or face industrial actions in protest.
The congress, which had management members in attendance, specifically demanded that funds be raised to settle workers’ outstanding, such as the payment of Year 2020 productivity allowance, the 13th-month salary, accrued pensions for senior citizens and immediate payment of furniture grants.
The workers alleged that low premiums had been placed on the health of staffers, especially as manifested in the management’s inability to get its workforce on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
They also lamented that the work done, such as various official trips and other claims, should be attended to with dispatch as continuing denial would suffocate workers’ commitment that enabled the agency to provide safe, prompt and economical air navigation services to the airlines and other consumers.
Our correspondents reliably gathered that unions’ leaderships present were the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical And Recreational Employees (AUPCTRE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), and the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP).
Reacting, the management said that the delay in meeting them was due to business downturn and paucity of funds. It therefore, did not deny the outstanding. It will be recalled that the COVID-19 pandemic and attendant lockdown brought devastating effects to the industry with the service providers struggling to pay salaries.
Reports from the Guardian said that NAMA, with the help of the Minister of Aviation, had to borrow to pay the salary of workers. “Though we are better-off than last year, we are not yet out of the financial woods. Once our financial status gets better, we will meet workers’ needs,” a top official said.
Secretary-General of ANAP, AbdulRazaq Seidu, observed that at the centre of all disputes was the unaddressed workers’ condition of service.
Mr. Seidu said if the condition of service was released, a lot of issues would naturally take their courses without any hues and cries from any quarter as both parties would have been appropriately guided and friction would have been drastically reduced, if not eliminated.