By Kelvin Osa-Okunbor

Members of four aviation unions plan to withdraw their services at the airports to join in the protest called by organised Labour over the increase in petrol price and electricity tariffs.

The unions are National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE); National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE); Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP).

By extension, the workers said they will shut the nation’s airspace and will not allow flights in any airport.

In a statement issued at the weekend, the unions said: “As you are aware, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) have declared indefinite nationwide strike action with effect from Monday, September 28, 2020.

“Our unions as above named are in full support of the strike action.

“As such, all workers in the aviation sector are hereby directed to withdraw their services at all aerodromes nationwide from 00hrs of 28th September 2020 until otherwise communicated by the NLC/TUC or our unions.

“All workers shall comply.”

But, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) said its members would not be participating in any protest.

Its President, Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina said: “the association completely dissociates itself” from the planned indefinite strike called over government’s decision to deregulate the two sectors.

Abdulmunaf noted that airlines had suffered huge losses for over three  months during the COVID-19 lockdown and were forced due to no fault of theirs to even lay off staff and significantly reduce the salaries of those that were retained.

He said: “It would be very insensitive therefore, and a show of lack of understanding and compassion for Nigerian aviation workers who have suffered greatly from the nationwide restrictions due to the pandemic to be asked to go on strike indefinitely once again.

“Aviation workers need to work to sustain their livelihoods and support their families, especially at this crucial time when schools are resuming around the country and they need all the financial support they can muster to survive.

“It is not in the interest of aviation workers to be asked to go back home indefinitely once again after barely resuming operations very recently and the airlines are still trying to recover from the lockdown and making concerted efforts to survive and secure the jobs and livelihood of its workers.”

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