The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, has cautioned aviation unions against issuing threats of strikes over Conditions of Service. The minister made his views known through a statement he issued in Lagos, on Saturday.
The minister was speaking at the third national delegates’ conference of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association, held in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, The News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Sirika, represented by the Commissioner, Accident Investigation Bureau, Mr Akin Olateru, said the unions should rather work with the management of aviation agencies for the growth of the industry.
The minister said the serious challenges posed by COVID-19 demand that all stakeholders must work together to fashion out a viable pathway to a strong and healthy aviation industry that will offer everybody, including the workers, the desired dividends.
He said, “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 pandemic hit and aviation became one of the major casualties of COVID-19 and in an industry that is known for low margins, especially the airline sector where labour is one of the largest cost, lowering labour costs is very attractive.
HE continued, “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 growth forecast 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 minister said the unions had a critical role to play in the growth and sustenance of the aviation industry, as their members constituted the majority of the workers who toiled day and night to ensure the smooth running of the industry.
Sirika appealed to the unions to work together to save aviation and keep the global supply chains going, promising that they would continue to carry labour along in policies as well as strategic moves to reposition the industry.
The minister also said he expected the unions to reciprocate this gesture with a bit more consideration and support in the best interest of the aviation sub-sector.
Also, the National President ATSSSAN, Mr Ilitrus Ahmadu, noted that the first was the need for labour unions and employers in the sector to invest in industrial peace.
He said the call had become necessary considering the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the aviation sector in the country, adding that this was the time for labour and employers to embrace constructive dialogue and negotiations to the effective resolution of disputes.