Arik Air, on Tuesday, had its operations shut down by Aviation unions. This left hundreds of the airline’s passengers stranded across the country.
They shut down Arik Air’s flight operations at both the local and international wings of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos and barricaded the airline’s corporate headquarters.
The strike was embarked upon by members of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), the Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers(NAAPE).
Grievances and Reasons For Strike
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the unions embarked on the joint strike following the airline’s failure to pay seven months salary arrears.
Addressing the protesters, Mr Olayinka Abioye, General Secretary, NUATE, said the unions decided to ground Arik Air for safety reasons.
Abioye said : “Arik Air has refused to pay workers salaries for seven months. A disgruntled worker is an accident waiting to happen.
“The airline has been defaulting in taxes and other statutory deductions from workers remunerations.
“The management has refused to allow total unionisation of its employees, in compliance with extant labour laws and with respect to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
He also demanded the immediate reinstatement of five of the airline’s employees who the company sacked for involving in unionism.
The unions insist the industrial action would continue indefinitely until management of Arik Air meet their demands.
Also speaking, Frances Akinjole, General Secretary, ATSSSAN, said the unions will continue with the strike for as long as necessary.
“Things cannot be business as usual for Arik. A pilot who is disgruntled can crash an aircraft deliberately. An engineer the company owes salaries can sabotage the aircraft.
“So we need to ground Arik Air until the management shows that they are responsible,” Akinjole added.
Some of Arik Air’s passengers at the General Aviation Terminal had to change their travel plans. This was because there was no one to attend to them at the airline’s counter.
One of the passengers, Ms Tomisin Olukare, told NAN that she bought a one-way ticket from Lagos to Abuja at N42,000 three days ago.
“I came this morning and there is nobody to attend to me. My flight was scheduled to leave by 10:00 a.m., so I am really confused,” she said.
Another passenger, Mrs Chika Emmanuel, said an agent assisted her in buying an Air Peace ticket for Abuja immediately she sensed that there was going to be a disruption on Arik Air operations.
Emmanuel said she would demand for a refund of her ticket from Arik Air when she returns from her trip.
When contacted, the Corporate Communications Manager of Arik Air, Mr Ola Adebanji, said the airline would soon issue a statement explaining their position on the situation.