The president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba on Thursday said it is heart breaking that despite the sacrifices and commitment by aircraft pilots and engineers during the Covid-19 pandemic, they are subjected to some of the most horrendous industrial mistreatments by airline companies.
Comrade Wabba who was speaking at the 15th National Delegates Conference and Symposium of National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) said Labour will not hesitate to picket the operations of any airline or services company in the aviation sector found to be violating the rights of workers and trade unions.
The NLC President said that it is a recipe for disaster for employers and stakeholders in the aviation sector to maltreat aircraft pilots and engineers in the country, adding that these set of workers have make trumemdous sacrifice that should not be neglected.
He further commended the association for the movement of essential provisions including testing kits, medicines, masks, respirators, oxygen cylinders, food, and other critical life supporting materials during the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.
The congress president also call for an improved stimulus for the aviation sector so as to guarantee the jobs of aviation workers.
“It is heart breaking that despite the sacrifices and commitment invested in the service of humanity by our aircraft pilots and engineers, they are subjected to some of the most horrendous industrial mistreatments.
“For a sector where the sanity of air pilots and engineers is critical to their application to duty and to the safety of the passengers they carry, we hear of salary deductions, freezes and stoppages.
“This is a perfect recipe for disaster. It is only commonsensical that those in whose hands lie the fate of hundreds of lives and millions of dependents must not only be well taken care but must be seen to be well taken care of.
“In the same vein, we condemn the rising wave of anti-unionization practices in the aviation industry. It appears that there is a conspiracy by the management of some airlines in Nigeria to frustrate the organization of workers in their firms and kill trade unionism in the sector. We can assure such management that this conspiracy like the ones before it will die unsung.
“While it is not our intention to stall the recovery of the aviation sector post COVID-19, we will not also stand akimbo and watch the women and men who carry on their shoulders the work that turn the wheels of the sector subjected to inhumane work conditions.
“As we had done in the recent past, we will not hesitate to picket the operations of any airline or services company in the aviation sector found to be violating the rights of workers and trade unions.
“We wish to remind recalcitrant employers that the International Labour Organization (ILO) through its fundamental conventions 87 and 98 guarantee the right of every worker to join a trade union of their choice without coercion or intimidation.
“Section 40 of Nigeria’s Constitution and Section 12 of the Trade Unions Amendment Act 2005 also grant workers the freedom to join any trade union of their choice.
“A few weeks ago, the Nigeria Labour Congress had cause to intervene in a case of anti-worker and anti-union high handedness by one of the aircraft companies. Working with the leadership of NAAPE, we were able to get the Federal Ministry of Aviation to mediate on the issue and give justice to the workers were unjustly by the aircraft company. We promise you that we will do more to stem the tide of this evil trend.
“As part of the recovery for airlines and in the bid to keep the jobs of our aviation workers, we call on the Federal Government to increase the stimulus support to the aviation sector. We also call for long term investments in upgrading facilities, amenities and services at our different airports.
“This will go a long way in boosting aviation business and making life a little easier for our hardworking aviation workers.
Finally, we call for the return of our national air carrier. We also call for the creation of the enabling space for the emergence of more airlines and helicopter companies. This will create the much needed jobs for the teeming hundreds of Nigerian aircraft pilots and engineers already trained and those undergoing training in different parts of the world.
“We commend the waiver by the Federal Government on the importation of aircraft parts. This has a potential of saving jobs.
At the global level, we have made and will continue to make a strong case for a Global Social Security Fund to address the current and future shocks emanating from the insurgency of the COVID-19 pandemic”.