September 28, (THEWILL) – Three key aviation unions, comprising the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), National Association of Nigeria Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees(NUATE), Arik Air branch have warned the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals(ANAP) and the National Union of Pensioners(NUP) to stay away from the affairs of Arik Air and NG Eagle or face the consequences of their actions.
ANAP and NUP had in a statement dated 24th September, 2021, jointly signed by Secretary General of ANAP, Comrade Abdulrasaq Saidu and General Secretary of NUP, FAAN Branch, Comrade Emeka Njoku called on the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to stop the issuance of NG Eagle, until all the total debts of Arik Air transforming to NG Eagle are settled.
But all the unions in Arik Air frowned at ANAP and NUP position, stressing that, the issues of importance to them presently are the painful circumstances which caused their colleagues to proceed on leave without pay and how to achieve transition from employees of Arik Air to NG Eagle Airlines without loss of their service years.
The unions gave the warning Tuesday, in a statement jointly signed by the branch Chairman/Secretary of NUATE, Ogulesi Afeez and Okoloj David and Branch Chairman/Secretary, NAAPE, Kelechi Alex Ifejika and Numoliya Bethen .
In the statement, they warned ANAP and NUP not to interfere in Arik’s Air and NG Eagle Airlines matter, adding that they will have the workers of both Arik Air and NG Eagle Airlines to contend with if they fail to heed the warning and proceed in any foolhardiness to attempt to cause any disorder in airlines.
The unions stated that “We are absolutely able to defend ourselves as as the law grants us to do.”
On the call by ANAP and NUP on the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)to deny NG Eagle Air Operators Certificate(AOC) based on the debt Arik Air owes the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) the three unions argued that, there is no correlation between the legacy debt and the issuance of AOC by the regulatory body .
The unions in Arik Air described the call as not only provocative but that, it is also irresponsible for ANAP and NUP to make such a call bearing in mind that the two unions in question do not have members in both Arik Air and NG Eagle.
According to the three unions, “To start with, ANAP and NUP are unknown quantities in Arik and NG Eagle. Having no membership in the two airlines , they have no stake whatsoever , and as such have neither legal nor moral right over the affairs of the two airlines .One therefore wonders in whose interest ANAP and NUP are acting.”
“More worrisome is the resort to the status of debt collectors by ANAP and NUP. We consider it demeaning for registered trade unions to debase unionism to the extent of actually acting as par thugs for their pay masters in the name of trade unionism. By threading on this acrimonious part , these two unions have robbed themselves of infamy and all people of conscience must condemn them without reservation.” the three unions in Arik said.
The unions also stated that they have no business with ANAP and NUP, adding that they totally disassociate themselves from the threat of the unions to shut down Arik and NG Eagle with no justifiable cause .
The workers affirmed that the unions recognised in Arik Air are ATSSSAN, NAAPE and NUATE and that they also have the authority to get involved in the affairs of the airlines.
Speaking on the issue, the General Secretary of NUATE, Abba Ocheme who was at the peaceful protest, said that aviation unions will not tolerate a situation where some unions are trying to pitch other unions against each other.
He also said that NUATE will not allow a situation where workers will be fighting themselves instead of pursuing a common goal or goals.
On the call by ANAP and NUP to deny NG Eagle AOC because Arik is indebted to FAAN, the NUATE scribe , said NCAA will not reduce its integrity on who to issue AOC to and how to issue it.
“We can count on NCAA to do due diligence on the issuance of AOC,” he said.
He said that, what should be the primary focus is the welfare and wellbeing of the workers, adding that Arik’s existence is threatened and that no one can predict the shape it will take .
According to him, “We will support Arik Air. Leave the issue of debt to the one owing and the one being owed. Presently, AMCON is not owing anybody . The debt we are talking about is the legacy debt and our problem is bigger than debt.”
He alleged that AMCON is owed about N240 billion and that the workers should allow those who have the expertise about debt to handle it
Earlier , workers of Arik Air had gathered at the Airlines head office to stage a peaceful rally to express their concerns and condemnation of the action of ANAP and NUP.