Sirika sues for dialogue as aggrieved workers ground NCAA

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Ime Akpan

The minister of state for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has invited aviation union leaders for dialogue as aggrieved employees of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) embarked on strike and grounded all activities at the agency’s offices on Wednesday.

The workers who operate under the umbrella of Air Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (NAP) and National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAPE) were protesting against alleged attempt by the ministry of transportation to create redundancy in the NCAA through the merger of key directorates in the agency.

The workers, who displayed placard with inscriptions such as “Otooge! Otooge” “Our mumu don do” “DG-NCAA, Capt. Usman Muhtar must go. Enough is enough. We are tired,” etc deplored the non-promotion of some NCAA staff for over three years due to lack of vacancy, which they claimed had affected the morale of workers.

Above all, the workers condemned the collapse of the directorates which include consumer protection, licensing standards, general aviation, aero-medicals and legal services in the new organogram.

They demanded a review of the organisation’s organogram, approval of the new condition of service and inauguration of board for the authority.

Addressing media during the protest, the national president of ATSSSAN, Mr. Ilitrus Ahmadu said the unions issued an ultimatum as well as wrote to Sirika and the NCAA management and expressed their grievance.

“Nobody invited us to discuss the issue; so it is like calling the bluff of the unions with regard to the ultimatum,” he said.

He added: “You must understand that we are in a very tight position as unions. I can speak categorically that as leaders…we are under tremendous pressure, workers are losing confidence.

“We had a situation in NCAA and we agreed with management that the way to go about this is to review the organogram, management did a review with financial justification to say we have the capacity for the implementation of the new organogram, document was sent to the ministry for review, the ministry set up a team, they came, we agreed at the stakeholders’ meeting on certain things.

“We were hopeful the document will come the way we agreed; then they came back rather than implement the expanded organogram agreed upon, they now shrink the organogram.

“The core essence of the review was to address an issue that arose in 2017 out of the promotion examination. They did not address that problem, rather they went and did something contrary,” said Ahmadu.

Nevertheless, the ATSSSAN president expressed the willingness of the union leaders to meet with the minister and iron out the issues.

“Very well, you know we are not in the era of jungle unionism; we have evolved overtime, our doors are open to engagement.  We will engage the minister,” he added.

Incidentally, the minister agreed to meet with the workers to look at their complaints.

Spokesman for NCAA, Mr. Sam Adurogboye said in a statement that the meeting had been slated for today.

“The minister of state (aviation) Senator Hadi Sirika has invited the aviation unions to a meeting today to address all issues raised by the workers.

“The unions are demanding a review of the organisation’s organogram, approval of the new condition of service and inauguration of boards for the authority.

“These issues are, however, not within the jurisdiction of NCAA management.

“Therefore, the regulatory authority will work with the supervising ministry to ensure that all issues are properly addressed to the satisfaction of all parties.

“The authority has absolute confidence that the meeting between the honourable minister and the unions will provide amicable resolution.

“The NCAA hereby appeals to all aviation stakeholders who are not able to access services at our offices today to remain calm as normalcy will soon be restored,” said Adurogboye.

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