Chinedu Eze and Peter Uzoho
The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) and the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has dissociated their members from the planned nationwide strike by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) over increase in the prices of fuel and electricity tariffs.
In a statement signed by the AON’s newly-elected President and the Chairman of Max Air, Mr. Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, the association said the domestic carriers would not join the strike because they have suffered huge losses occasioned by the COVID-19 lockdown and poor passenger traffic after resumption of flight operations.
“AON unequivocally and completely dissociates itself from the planned indefinite strike action called by labour over the issues of government’s recent increase of fuel price and electricity tariff in the country,” the statement said.
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.
“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.
“While we totally understand the concerns of labour of the need to make government see reason with and identify with the challenges being faced currently by the masses and recently worsened by the ripple effects from the sudden increase in fuel price and electricity tariff, we call on the leaders of the various labour Unions to continue to dialogue with government to find a middle ground that will be a win-win situation for all parties.
“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,” Alhaji Abdulmunaf said.
Meanwhile, IPMAN has also said its members would not take part in the strike action and protest ordered by the two main organs of the organised labour, the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
In a statement issued at the weekend, IPMAN asked their members and their staff to ignore the directive by labour and go on with their normal business activities.
The National Public Relations Officer of IPMAN, Mr. Yakubu Suleiman, stated in the statement issued in Abuja that the national body of the association had directed all IPMAN members to continue with their normal businesses while NLC goes ahead with the strike.
He urged the labour unions to realise that deregulation of the nation’s petroleum downstream sector was inevitable.
While expressing the marketers’ support to government on the policy, Suleiman, however called on Nigerians to cooperate with government in ensuring the growth of the nation’s economy.
“We are calling on the NLC to realise that deregulation is inevitable. It remains the surest way to bring back our economy to normalcy.
“There is no country in the world that can sustain its economy without deregulating it.
“We urge Nigerians to cooperate with government in ensuring that our economy grows,” Suleiman said.