By Victor Akaa, Abuja
The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika on Thursday called on the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) to produce an improved conditions of service for staff of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Sirika made the call when he led the leaders of joint aviation unions to the Chairman of the Commission, Chief Richard Egbule, in Abuja.
He said the move was in a response to the industrial action declared by the unions in the aviation sector to demand for new conditions of service among other things.
It was reported that the unions had on Wednesday, shut down activities at the offices of NCAA nationwide to press home their demands.
The unions include: the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) and Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP).
They were demanding among other things, the review of the staff conditions of service, returning to the original organogram of NCAA and inauguration of the board of the authority.
Sirika told the NSIWC chairman that he came to urge the commission to speed up the process of delivering a new condition of service to the staff.
He said the move was necessary because of the essential nature of the services the staff render to the nation, adding that embarking on industrial action was not good for the industry.
The minister explained that he had swung into action immediately on Wednesday by granting two of the three demands put forward by the union.
He explained that the issue of the condition of service was not within the purview of the ministry, hence the visit to the commission.
“The good thing is that they are our workers and we have been working together and since they are part of us, we know their claims, and we know where it pinches because we have been there.
“We had dialogue with them and like the chairman of wages commission said, aviation unions are not known to be this restive, it is something uncommon, it is unusual.
“We appealed to them on Wednesday that out of the three demands, we would resolve two and that we were working toward the third one.
“They understood and left happily, but we heard that the staff back there in Lagos were unhappy with them and passed a vote of no confidence on them.
“We will appeal to them that what they are doing is an essential service.
“They have been assured by the chairman, they should take his word and believe us as leaders of this ministry because we have always walked out talk,’’ he said.
Egbule, however, assured the minister that the commission would take proactive measures toward producing a condition of service that would be acceptable.
He said that the commission took issues that concerned aviation workers very serious, adding that the unions would be carried along throughout the process.
He commended the minister for his commitment to staff welfare in the sector, adding that Sirika was the first minister in the country to have ever visited the commission in respect of staff welfare.
Mr Sofolahan Ayodele, Branch Chairman, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), expressed appreciation to the minister and the commission for their commitments toward resolving the issues.
Ayodele noted that never in history had any minister taken the issue of condition of service serious since the inception of NCAA.
“This shows that the minister has the love of the staff at heart and we want to thank the minister for this privilege,’’ he said.
(With NAN reports)