Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has warned aviation unions against embarking on industrial actions and issuing of threats over conditions of service, CoS.
The Minister who gave the warning at the 3rd national delegate conference of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN), in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State said, the sector was in a period of recovery and this was not the time for threats and spate of industrial actions that would further slow down the growth of the industry.
Senator Sirika who was represented by the Commissioner of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) Akin Olateru, said the serious challenge posed by COVID-19 demanded that all stakeholders work together to fashion out a viable pathway to a strong and healthy aviation industry that would offer everybody, including workers the desired dividends.
According to him, the forecast growth for the Nigeria Air Transport market was 174% in the next 20 years and if met, would have supported approximately $4.7 billion of GDP and over 555,000 jobs.
He however stated that, the pandemic hit made aviation became one of the major casualties of COVID-19 and that in an industry that was known for low margins, especially the airline sector where labor was one of the largest cost, lowering labor costs was very attractive.
“IATA records show that as of 2018, air transport in Nigeria supported 241,000 jobs with a gross value added to GDP of US $1.7b. The forecast growth 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.
The Aviation Minister said, the unions have a critical role to play in the growth and sustenance of the aviation industry, as their members constitute the majority of the workers who toil day and night to ensure the smooth running of the industry.
“It is agreed that unions exist to serve the interests of their members. However, in an industry that is known for low margins, especially the airline sector where labor is one of the largest cost, lowering labor costs becomes very attractive and unions will always kick. Yet, the industry needs labour just as labour needs the industry.
He urged the unions to first work together to save aviation and keep the global supply chains going, adding that, unions and aviation management should prioritise collaborative dialogue to ensure the industry’s financial health and the consequent preservation and growth which would eventually enable aviation employers provide acceptable conditions of service to their workers.
“We shall continue to carry labour along in policies and strategic moves to reposition the industry. We also expect the unions to reciprocate this gesture with a bit more consideration and support in the best interest of the aviation sub sector”.