Aviation workers threaten strike over welfare

Osita-ChidokaFrom Suleiman Idris, Kano

Air traffic controllers, under the umbrella of the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (NATCA), have issued a 21-day ultimatum to the management of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), on issues of their remuneration.

The group, in a communiqué jointly signed by President and General Secretary of NATCA, Victor Eyaru and Banji Olawode respectively, issued at the end of its 43rd annual general meeting/conference held in Kano State at the weekend, further demanded that all outstanding, unresolved and/or pending issues regarding Air Traffic Controllers’ remuneration, professional allowances and promotion/advancement in NAMA should be attended to within 21 days with effect from November 3, 2014.

Meanwhile, the NAMA said 40 ATC will undergo a 2 days theory and 5 days practicals in Egypt, this month while another 5 will be trained on wind sheild equipment cited in 5 different locations in Nigeria by December.

Speaking at the NATCA AGM, Managing Director of NAMA, Ibrahim Abdulsalam, said the management is sending the ATC on DBN training as part of urgent measures to bridge the gap in inadequate manpower in air traffic control in Nigeria.

The MD, who was represented by the Director of Operations, Edward Ogedegbe said “The new management is taking training serious, a few days from now 4 groups of 10 ATCOs will be trained in the first instance in Cairo, another set of 5 persons will go to Germany next month”.

The threat by NATCA to go on strike to press for their demands is usually taken seriously by NAMA because the controllers have the capacity to ground flight operations nationwide, because of the sensitive services they provide.

Additionally, the controllers requested for the review of the allowances of their members working at the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, stressing that it has been waiting for approval at the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission since 2010.

They urged that the allowances be released for implementation within the same time frame; failure of which they threatened would make the group to be left with no other option than to act within legitimate means recognized by labour law to press home these demands.

They equally vowed to resist alleged plan by NAMA management to appoint non-air traffic controller as Airspace Manager, at Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, describing it as absurd and unacceptable to the generality of Air Traffic Controllers. And appealed that sufficient and timely training and re-training be given to all controllers to remedy the grossly inadequate, abridged and inconclusive form of training being experienced over time which serves as threats to air safety.

 

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