Arik Air has announced that 300 members of its staff would be made redundant barely 24 hours after the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) grounded the airline and disrupted its operations nationwide over workers condition of service.
The airline’s Communications Manager, Adebanji Ola said that the decision of the management was due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its operations.
He said the pandemic caused serious financial constraints which caused the inability of the airline to carry out costly maintenance and return its planes to operations, while its revenue nosedived.
He said that the decision to let go of staff was a difficult one even as the leadership of NUATE was about to commence a meeting convened by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) at its Aviation House at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos
“Stunted revenues against increasing operational costs, the management of Arik Air (In receivership) has declared 300 staff members redundant to its current level of operations.
“The leaderships of the impacted unions have been contacted to negotiate a redundancy package for the affected staff. It is important to note that over 50 per cent of Arik Air’s workforce of over 1,600 staff have been on furlough in the past six months on a base allowance,” Ola said.
Reacting to the development, the General Secretary of NUATE, Ocheme Aba, said the union would discuss the redundant packages for its members with the airline. He explained that NCAA had called for a meeting on Friday morning, which he said the union would attend.
“They have invited us to discuss the matter. We will listen to them. It is up to them to determine if workers are surplus to requirement. It is their right under the law. We will listen to their presentation on it and we will take it up from there. We are going for the meeting now at NCAA,’’ Aba said.
The management of the airline and the union have been at logger heads for more than a year. On Thursday, December 3, the union grounded the activities of the airline on its ongoing demand for improved welfare to its members.
Passengers hoping to fly to their various destinations aboard Arik Air were stranded as NUATE withdrew their services from the airline indefinitely.
The union accused the airline which has been under receivership by the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), of failing to sign condition of service and recalling furloughed staff and the interventions by both the Ministers of Aviation Hadi Siriki and Labour and Productivity Chris Ngige, have not yielded any positive result.
In a letter dated Tuesday, December 2, signed by Aba, addressed to all Arik Staff and copied to the Commissioner of Police, Airport Commands, Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Director of State Security Service,MMIA and Airport Chief of Security, MMIA, the union directed its members to withdraw their services to the airline till further notice.
However, following discussions with NUATE on Friday, the management of the airline announced the immediate resumption of flights. The airline’s spokesman said all its afternoon and evening flights for Friday, December 4, will operate as scheduled.
“We apologise to all our valued customers for the disruption to their travel plans on Thursday and Friday which has finally been put behind us. Passengers with tickets who couldn’t fly on the days of the disruption can modify such tickets at no extra costs to travel at anytime,” Ola said.