The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has cautioned aviation unions against issuing threats of strikes over Conditions of Service, a statement he issued in Lagos on Saturday said.
Sirika spoke at the National Delegates’ Conference of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria.
The conference held in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State.
The Minister, represented by the Commissioner, Accident Investigation Bureau, Akin Olateru, said the unions should rather work with the managements of aviation agencies for the recovery of the industry and its growth.
Sirika said the serious challenge posed by COVID-19 demanded that all stakeholders must work together to fashion out a viable pathway to a strong and healthy aviation industry that will offer everybody, including the workers, the desired dividends.
The Minister said the growth forecast for the Nigeria Air Transport Market was 174 per cent in the next 20 years and if met would have supported approximately $4.7 billion of GDP and over 555,000 jobs.
Sirika noted that the sector was in a recovery mode and therefore this was not the time for threats and spates of industrial actions, which would only further inhibit the growth badly needed by the industry.
He said: “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.
“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 $1.7 billion.
“The growth forecast for the Nigeria Air Transport market was 174 per cent in the next 20 years.
“If met, this would support approximately $4.7 billion of GDP and over 555,000 jobs.”
The Minister said the unions had a critical role to play in the growth and sustenance of the aviation industry as their members constituted the majority of the workers who toiled day and night to ensure the smooth running of the industry.
Sirika said it was agreed that unions existed to serve the interests of their members, but that in an industry known for low margins, especially the airline sector, where labour was one of the largest cost, the workers must be considerate.
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 as this was what can guarantee job security and prosperity for stakeholders.
Sirika 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.
The Minister also said he expected the unions to reciprocate this gesture with a bit more consideration and support in the best interest of the aviation sub sector.
Also, the National President ATSSSAN, Ilitrus Ahmadu, noted that the first was the need for labour unions and employers in the sector to invest in industrial peace.
Ahmadu said the call had become necessary considering the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the aviation sector in the country, adding that this was the time for labour and employers to embrace constructive dialogue and negotiations to the effective resolution of disputes.
He said 80 per cent of the successes achieved by his administration had been through table engagements with employers, including the Federal Government.