Labour Threatens to Frustrate Establishment of Planned NG Eagle


Chinedu Eze

The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) has threatened to frustrate the establishment of a new airline, NG Eagle by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) because the airline is billed to rise on the ashes of Arik Air.

In a letter signed by the General Secretary of NUATE, Ocheme Aba, the union said that it would not allow the airline to be established unless AMCON resolved Arik Air workers plight.
There has been protracted clamour by labour for the payment of Arik Air workers who have been laid off by the airline’s management and others still working in the company whose emoluments have not been paid.

The union said presently AMCON has already moved some personnel of Arik Air to NG Eagle while being loudly silent on the service records of such personnel in Arik Air and wondered what would happen to the previous years of service, “or how assured is the security of such service in their new assignments? Or, shall such service be in vain?”

NUATE alleged that AMCON wanted to surreptitiously disown its liabilities in Arik Air, especially the airline’s obligations to its workforce, to start a fresh airline where it hoped to recoup its investment and debts.

NUATE said in the statement made available to THISDAY, “We have it on good authority that AMCON’s real intention is to sidestep the debt overhang, particularly in Arik Air, while continuing to make money from the airline business without any real capital injection. This it intends to achieve by moving all valuable assets of Arik Air, including human asset, into the new NG Eagle. The questions are, what becomes of the carcass of Arik Air and its personnel after such evil wind?

“We decipher that AMCON’s unstated objective is to open a window of business opportunity as a way to recoup its heavy financial losses through the heavy debts in Arik and Aero. But, surely NUATE can’t be the only ones wondering what sort of business ingenuity there could be in running three airlines simultaneously.”

The union also alleged that AMCON and the management of Arik had arrogated to themselves the powers to probate and reprobate on all issues pertaining to status of employees “in this ingenious business melodrama, with complete disregard to subsisting collective bargaining agreements and relevant labour laws. Is NUATE expected to cheer them on to the neglect of its responsibilities and obligations to its members in the airline?”

It warned that “if this conundrum by AMCON will lead to depopulation of the employed and increase in poverty, as is clearly established, shouldn’t one wonder why the government and its relevant agencies appear to either be acquiescent or in actual aid of the furtherance of the obnoxious objective? Are we permitted to ask of our leaders the rationale behind the uninhibited aiding and abetting of this social-economic criminality?”

NUATE said that presently AMCON was in receivership of two airlines – Arik Air and Aero Contractors – being a 60 per cent shareholder in the latter.

“One should ask why AMCON would be floating another airline. We smell a rat,” the statement added.