By LOUIS IBA
There were strong fears of a total shutdown of Nigeria’s airspace, as labour groups in the industry threatened to down tools as from today, over the inability of the management of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to implement approved new remuneration packages for workers.
The Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), on Wednesday, demanded a full implementation of the new remuneration package within 72 hours or it would embark on a warning strike to enforce compliance.
The unions, in a joint statement yesterday, signed by Olayinka Abioye for ATSSSAN, Abdulkareem Motajo, NUATE, and Abah Ocheme for NAAPE, said it would not rescind the decision to embark on the strike as from today, if its terms were not met.
They noted that only the strike could compel the management of NAMA to act fast in implementing the adjusted salary structure for its workers, which it said was signed by the Salaries and Wages Commission in August 13, 2012.
The statement reads in part: “NAMA management has been given 72 hours to meet the demand of the workers. Failure to do so will lead to the shutting down of the Nigerian airspace throughout Friday. We are bent on embarking on the one day strike to press home our demands.
“During the period, no aircraft will be seen flying in the Nigeria airspace as our members will retrieve their services to airlines across the country and if that does not yield the expected result, we will embark on indefinite strike,” it said.
However, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) in a statement, on Wednesday, said it was committed to implement the new condition of service contrary to insinuations from the union leaders on Wednesday in Lagos.
The management attributed the delay in implementing the new salary structure to some critical omissions in the document approved by the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, which were of serious concern to the union leaders who implored the NAMA management to alert the commission for necessary correction.
“Having studied the approved salary structure, we observeed that grade levels 01–14 were at variance with what was negotiated, as it fell short of figures of each of the grade levels. ” In comparism with the salary structure of FAAN ,the approved salary structure of NAMA fell short to that of FAAN which was approved in 2011.
The differentials therefore undermine the salary parity between FAAN and NAMA.”, Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations,civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees(AUPTRE),one of the the unions noted in a letter to the management. “As we speak, we are in February 2013 and it is yet to be implemented.
We have written several letters to the management about the implementation and they feel adamant about it, we have just come here to renew the mandate and by the mandate today, if three days after today, management has not done anything to show us that they are ready to implement this conditions of service, we are going to proceed on a day warning strike, the various letters to that effect will be ready as from tomorrow (today) to all our commissions, after that if they are still adamant we have no option than to give adequate notice to commence strike indefinitely until the salary structure is implemented, indefinite strike action.”