By Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
Arik Air (In Receivership) has dismissed several of its pilots for embarking on a strike over demand for improved welfare.
The Communications Manager of the airline, Adebanji Ola, said the affected pilots embarked on strike without recourse to lay down procedures and did not serve strike notice in accordance with labour laws. He said they neither submitted any issue of the dispute to the National Association of Airline Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), their umbrella union nor did they submit any statement of demands to the management of the company before downing tools.
The airline said there were also no ongoing discussions between the management and the pilots on any unresolved labour issues, describing their action as spontaneous and callous.
‘Arik Air finds it rather treacherous of the pilots to contemplate on a strike at this Yuletide season which is the peak period for airlines all over the world. They peddle for nought the reputation and financial health of the company. It is instructive to note that the management of the airline has of late had very fruitful discussions with relevant aviation unions including the National Association of Airline Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), on conditions of service for all employees. This has led to the signing of a robust condition of service and redundancy benefits for staff.
‘While great efforts have been made to minimise the impact of the illegal strike action, some fully booked flights have had to be cancelled. Arik Air regrets the inconvenience caused by this action and is doing everything in its powers to minimise the impact and discomfort to its esteemed customers,’ Ola said.
Some of the pilots alleged that on several occasions, they had requested to meet with the company’s Receiver Manager, Mr Kamilu Omokide, to discuss their welfare and salary increase but their efforts didn’t yield any results.
The pilots then wrote directly to Omokide, requesting a meeting with him on December 20, and warned that if they didn’t meet with him on the said date, they would down tools. Daily Sun learned that on Tuesday morning, when Omokide still didn’t meet with them, they went on strike and the airline’s operation was grounded.
Daily Sun reached out to the president of NAAPE, Arik Air chapter, Mudi Muhammad, who said the situation is under control and the issues would soon be resolved.
The national president of NAAPE, Galadima Abednego told Daily Sun that it is usually the responsibility of labour unions to serve notice of strike and not that of individual staff. He also said that according to labour laws, there are procedures that must be followed before any action is carried out or else, it would become illegal. He however assured that the national body will intervene if the need arises to ensure the dispute is resolved.
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