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Aviation minister warns unions against strike actions

Minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika has warned aviation unions against threats of industrial strikes over conditions of service.

This warning was issued by the aviation minister while speaking at the third national delegates’ conference of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN), held in Ijebu Ode, Ogun state on Saturday.

The aviation minister advised the unions to work with the management of aviation agencies for the recovery of the industry and its growth.

Represented by Akin Olateru, commissioner, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Sirika noted that the industry is yet to recover fully from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are in a period of recovery, so this is not the time for threats and spate of industrial actions which will only further inhibit the growth the industry so badly needs,” he said.

“The pandemic hit and aviation became one of the major casualties of COVID-19 and in an industry that is known for low margins, especially the airline sector where labour is one of the largest cost, lowering labour costs is very attractive.

“IATA records show that as at 2018, air transport in Nigeria supported 241,000 jobs with a gross value added to GDP of US $1.7b.

“The growth forecast for the Nigeria Air Transport market was 174% in the next 20 years. If met, this would support approximately $4.7 billion of GDP and over 555,000 jobs.”

Sirika also said although the unions existed to serve the interests of their members, it should, however, take into consideration that the industry was known for low margins and that labour was one of the largest costs.

He added that lowering labour costs becomes very attractive, and unions would always kick, yet, the industry needs labour just as labour needs the industry.

According to him, government, employers and labour must work together for the best interest of the aviation industry, saying it would guarantee job security and prosperity for stakeholders.

He appealed to the unions to work together to save aviation and keep the global supply chains going, promising that they would continue to carry labour along in policies as well as strategic moves to reposition the industry.

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