The crisis between the unions in the Nigerian aviation industry and Arik Air may resume any moment from now as the airline failed to fulfil its part of the agreement with the workers concerning outstanding salaries.
A member of staff of the carrier told our correspondent that the workers anticipated the one month salary payment last Friday as had been agreed with the unions and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), but with nobody eventually being paid by the end of the week.
Last Tuesday, during the brief picketing of its operations nationwide by the unions, Arik made the commitment to pay the first batch of the seven months’ salary backlog to its workers by last Friday, the pledge on which it defaulted.
In a communiqué signed in the presence of NCAA, the airline had agreed with the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) to pay the outstanding October and November 2016 salaries before the end of the year.
According to the communiqué, the October salary was to have been paid on or before Friday, 23 December, and the November salary on or before 31 December.
Our source said however that since the agreement was reached on Tuesday the management had not communicated with the staff on any payment arrangements, adding that the workers would approach their respective unions on Wednesday to re-strategise when they resume work following the Christmas and Boxing Day holidays.
With the failure of the airline to pay the first batch of salaries arrears, it is unclear if the second batch, due in a few days, will be met.
When our correspondent contacted Olayinka Abioye, the General Secretary of NUATE, he said the unions were yet to receive any form of communications from the workers on the payment or otherwise of the payment of the salaries arrears, as agreed.
“The agreement we reached with the management was that the salaries arrears should be paid till October last by Friday while the December salary should be paid in January, 2017, but as I am talking to you now, nobody has called to inform us that they have received any payment so far,” he noted.
It would be recalled that the NCAA last Tuesday intervened in the picketing of Arik Air by the unions over the non-payment of salaries and illegal deductions from its members working for the airline, as a result of which the airline made the commitment to pay all salary arrears to its workers beginning from last Friday.
The communiqué at the end of the meeting stated that the unions agreed to shelve the strike following the intervention of the regulatory authority, and that Arik agreed to the payment arrangement.
In the communiqué, it was also stated that the unions would submit the acknowledged copies of the letters forwarding membership forms of their prospective members to the NCAA, while the regulatory body would forward the same document to the airline management.