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Aviation unions hit Arik Air, reject 80% pay cut

Aviation unions in Nigeria have rejected the pay cut and leave without pay proposal by Arik Air last week as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The leadership of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN), National Union of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE),  National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) have petitioned  the management of the airline through its Human Resources Manager,  accusing it of treating its workers like beggars.

Francis Akinjoke, Ochere Aba and Oniha Erazua, who signed the letter on behalf of the unions, said they will not accept the airline’s managment directive, stressing however that they are open to amicable negotiations.

The management of Arik Air last Wednesday, said that it will implement an 80 per cent pay cut for members of staff across board for the month of April 2020 and from May 1st 2020, 90 per cent of the employees would proceed on leave without pay until further notice.

The airline made this known in a memo from its Managing Director, Captain Roy Ilegbodu, who explained that the review  was prompted by a sharp decline of about 98 per cent in the airline’s earnings in naira value as well as current oil prices. It further stated the position will be reviewed on monthly basis adding that communications on further developments will be shared  as the situation evolves.

But the unions responded in a letter to the airline, saying that while acknowledging the airline was more affected by the COVID19 pandemic being already in receivership, any percentage of salaries paid now should be regarded as part payment, the balance of which would be paid later in full.

“We write to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated April 23, 2020 and we strongly express our unions displeasure at what management decided to throw at our members.

“Is it not high time we started having a second thought on this idea of seeing staff as beggars that have no choice? Being stakeholders in the aviation industry, our unions are equally disturbed about the negative impact of the pandemic on our sector generally. This was why our unions made an appeal to the Minister of Aviation, Captain Hadi Sirika, for intervention by the Federal Government. Is it not contradictory that our members are being made to bear the brunt of the negative impact of the pandemic before respite from the government comes?

“With due respect, the offer of 20 per cent salary for the month of April 2020 and no salary at all for May 2020 is totally unacceptable and our unions consider the manner in which the offer was thrown at us and the advice that staff should manage the 20 per cent prudently while the lockdown lasts is an insult. “In view of that, we wish to state that whatever amount paid as salary to any of our members now will be considered as part payment of monthly emolument, pending any agreement borne out of a negotiation.

“Please be assured of our readiness to positively engage with you towards an amicable settlement, even as we await your invitation to that effect.”

Airk Air was founded by Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide but at present, it is being managed by AssetManagement Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) which took over the airline due to its huge debts.

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