An imminent industrial labour crisis is looming in the country’s controversial aviation sector which, if not urgently looked into by the government, may further compound the problems in the sector.
The looming crisis is not far from the refusal of the government to pay the 20 years outstanding severance benefits of the former workers of the defunct Nigeria Airways which was liquidated over nine years ago.
The affected workers who are based in Nigeria who had only been paid five years out of the 25 years, government agreed to pay them while their counterparts who worked for the same airline in Europe and America were paid the full 25 years benefits nine years ago.
All efforts made by the over 5,000 Nigerians who worked for the former national carrier to make government to pay the benefits failed, as the various governments that had served, except that of late President Umaru Yar’Adua, had reportedly continued to ignore the appeals of the workers.
Information gathered by the Nigerian Tribune has shown that the former workers have regrouped under the aegis of Aviation Union Grand Alliance (AUGA), to press home their demands which they described as their rights.
According to some of the affected workers, since the government had pushed them to the wall, it should blame itself for the consequence of the injustice it meted to the Nigerians who, for over three decades, had toiled for the national carrier.
Already, the unions; National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and National Association of Aircraft Pilots Engineers (NAAPE), had, in a letter addressed to President Goodluck Jonathan dated October 22, 2013, and titled; ’Re: Undue delay in the settlement of terminal benefits of ex-workers of Nigeria Airways-Appeal for Mr President’s intervention’, had reminded him of an earlier letter on the issue which had not been responded to.
The letter partly stated: “Your Excellency may wish to note that we have not received any acknowledgement of response from you concerning the letter till date. Unfortunately, however the living condition of the victims of the transgression, the ex-workers of Nigeria Airways, has been getting worse by the day. It has now reached an unbearable level.
“Mr President, please bear in mind that you have had ample time to act positively on this matter. And there may still be a little time left. It will be very undeserving and indeed unacceptable to do nothing, now that the opportunity exists in a congenial atmosphere, then later allow people to label us as playing politics when we begin to take actions to seek amelioration.”
The latest of such letters which was sent to the president and secretary general of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) respectively dated November 11, 2013 has alerted of an impending labour crisis should government still choose to turn deaf ears to their call.
The letter partly read: “Your timely and strong action on the matter, therefore, will go a long way in getting the Federal Government to accede to our demands and thereby starve off an impending but avoidable crisis in the nation at large, and the aviation sector in particular.”