The ongoing nationwide strike by aviation unions has taken a new turn as one of the unions, the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), dismissed the claim by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, that aviation is an essential service and should not embark on strike.
In a recent interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily program, the General Secretary of NUATE, Ocheme Aba, described the claim as “a fallacy” and stated that aviation does not fall under the category of essential services, except for air traffic control services as defined by the International Labour Organisation.
The strike, which began on Monday, has resulted in scores of flights being affected and thousands of passengers, both local and international, stranded across the country as airports were grounded by the protesting unions. The strike action entered its second day on Tuesday, with no resolution in sight as both the federal government and the unions remain at odds.
Aba explained that the meeting between the unions and the government on Sunday was deadlocked as there was no guarantee on the release of the reviewed Condition of Service for the aviation agencies, which was one of the key issues raised by the unions. He also mentioned that the Salaries and Wages Commission had convened another meeting with the agencies, but the unions were not invited and were unaware of the ongoing discussions.
Furthermore, Aba cited a ruling by the National Industrial Court that aviation and airlines do not render essential services, contrary to the claim made by the Minister of Aviation. He also pointed out that other professionals, such as doctors, have gone on strike without being classified as essential services.
The strike action has caused significant disruptions to air travel in Nigeria, with passengers bearing the brunt of the standoff between the government and the striking unions. As the impasse continues, many are hoping for a swift resolution to end the strike and restore normalcy to the aviation sector.