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Aviation workers threaten to shut down Nigeria airspace, continue strike as negotiations stalled

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The aviation sector workers’ unions have threatened a complete shutdown of airport operations across the country, despite requests from the Federal Government that they sheathe their swords.

This was a sequel to the two-day warning strike which they embarked on Monday and Tuesday this week to protest against poor condition of service and other related grievances against operators and the government.

The aviation workers have threatened to totally shut down the airspace next Wednesday if the government fails to grant their requests.

The workers, who had embarked on a two-day warning strike since Monday, were chanting solidarity songs at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, in the presence of heavy security personnel.

One of the unionists, Abdulrarak Saidu, expressed disappointment that nothing has been done to ensure that the conditions of service were implemented in the last eight years.

He also criticised the aviation minister for wanting to pull down offices of agencies and parastatals in Lagos State.

According to him, the minister of aviation, Sirika wants to turn his policy into law and lord it over the industry.

“For eight years, conditions of service were not implemented. Sirika usurps the functions of the governing boards. There is no check and balance. They wanted to coerce us to come to Abuja, but we did not go to the meeting. No conclusions, and no genuine meeting with the government.

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“He wants to destroy buildings in the sector for a roadmap that was not approved for Lagos. Even the one approved in Abuja for the aerotropolis nothing has happened there and he wants to turn his policy into law.

“When you are going in the next month, you want to pull down headquarters and leave nothing. After seven days, we go to a total shutdown. We will try to cut Nigeria away from other countries,” he said.

Sirika, in a statement, described the strike as unnecessary and displeasing, adding that the issues of poor working conditions raised by the unions could be dealt with in-house.

Specifically, the striking workers had closed down the check-in halls which, however, hugely reduced movements and caused long queues.

For the air passengers, the situation was unpalatable, as many of them were seen venting their anger over the disruption of airport activities.

One of the passengers who simply identified himself as Haruna Adamu said the strike was necessary but noted that it should have been done in a manner that allowed for the continuity of airport operations.

“I don’t have any issue with people expressing dissatisfaction when they are not treated right but how you express your problem matters a lot.

”These guys have not done well with halting scheduled fights because many of us here have very important places and meetings to catch up with.

”As it stands, I can’t go anywhere, and I was hopeful that everything will go seamlessly but here I am not sure of my movement,” Adamu said.

The General Secretary, of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees, Sikiru Waheed, told journalists at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), in Abuja, that the next step was to completely shut down airports across the country should the federal government fail to yield to the union’s demands.

(omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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