✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters

Airlines count losses, passengers stranded as workers ground airports

After over 10 hours of flight disruption by striking workers of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc, the unions have suspended the action even…

After over 10 hours of flight disruption by striking workers of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc, the unions have suspended the action even as local and international airlines continue to count losses.

Thousands of passengers were stranded nationwide following the strike embarked upon by two aviation unions – National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN).

The unions are at loggerheads with the management of NAHCO over poor remuneration for their members in their employment.

Both unions have been engaging the management until last week, when a five-day notice of strike was issued to the employers to accede to their demand for better welfare package.

Botched airlines’ shutdown, Nigeria Air, others shaped aviation in 2022

Family rejects old naira notes as bride price in Niger

It was learnt that the NAHCO management had secured a court order to stop the planned strike but the unions went ahead and downed tools.

NAHCO workers in the early hours of the day, withdrew their services for airlines handled by the company at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.

NAHCO handles many foreign and local airlines, including Virgin Nigeria, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, among others and at the local level, it handles Air Peace, Azman, United Nigeria, Dana Airlines, among others, all of which are now counting the cost of the disruptions.

Air Peace has already said it lost N500 million to the strike action.

Earlier in the morning, a Qatar Airways flight from Doha that arrived at the Lagos airport had to return because there was no handling firm to provide ground services.

The Daily Trust gathered that the other handling firm, Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) Plc, could not provide help to NAHCO airlines following threats from the unions.

Many passengers were seen wandering around the airport vicinity, uncertain about the status of their flight.

A passenger who was to travel to Doha on Monday morning said he was still stranded at the airport and unsure of what would happen to his flight.

Women, children, and the elderly took a nap at a corner of the MMIA waiting for the resolution of the strike.

One of the striking workers who spoke with our correspondent said they stopped work because of poor remuneration by the company.

“For instance, I am being paid N60,000 and the landlord is asking me to pay N200,000 as house rent and if you have three children, how do you want us to survive? Some of us cannot send our children to school because of the poor remuneration by our employers,” he said.


Air Peace loses over N500m 

Air Peace yesterday said it lost N500 million as a result of the strike embarked upon by the unions, adding that the action paralysed its operations across its large network.

The management of the airline stated that the ground handling company did not pre-inform them about the strike nor was a public notice issued.

“Neither NAHCO nor the striking unions informed us of an impending strike. Our staff reported to work and noticed an ongoing industrial action. If we had been informed beforehand, we would have conveyed the same to our passengers early enough.

“Now, all morning flights and other subsequent flights have been disrupted, cancelled, delayed and rescheduled. This has cost us over N500 million as we operate over 100 flights daily. Passengers are also attacking our ground staff as they cannot fly.

“We have notified the flying public of the strike, but it is important to stress again that the action is by the staff of NAHCO, not Air Peace. It is an action against the management of NAHCO, and Air Peace has nothing to do with it.”

Unions, NAHCO reach truce 

After hours of deliberations, the unions and the management finally reached a truce, leading to the suspension of the strike.

In a document signed by NUATE General Secretary, Ocheme Aba, and ATSSSAN Deputy General Secretary, Frances Akinjole, as well as the Group Managing Director of NAHCO, Sola Obabori, the parties resolved to call off the strike while negotiations would continue on Wednesday on the demand for staff welfare.

The negotiation was observed by the Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Port Health and the Nigeria Air Force.

At the end, the management decided to withdraw the suit and vacate the court order earlier obtained.

Also, a counter offer to the union’s demands will be issued by the management before the close of business today, January 23, 2023, it was learnt.

All negotiations would be concluded within the week, and it was decided that all staff should resume work immediately.

Also, it was agreed that no staff would be victimised as a result of the strike action.

Kingsley Nwokoma of the Association of Foreign Airlines Representatives in Nigeria (AFRAN) described the strike as “unfortunate.”

“It’s quite unfortunate, workers have rights and strikes are seen all over the world. The strike has been called off, and hopefully, both parties will resolve pending issues and workers will go back to work,” he said.