There are strong indications that staff of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) may resume their suspended strike, following the failure of the management to adhere to the agreement it had with their union.
The management had set up a committee to look into the conditions of service of the workers as demanded by the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP), the staff union, which alleged that the conditions under which the workers operated were the poorest in the industry.
The committee, comprising management staff of the organisation and representatives of the union, was given three weeks to look into the complaints.
Decisions were also expected to be taken within three weeks by the management, but feelers from the union indicated that the management was not cooperating with the committee, despite the fact that it was set up by the management.
The three weeks’ grace given the management expired last Friday, September 7, 2018, but both parties were yet to reach an agreement.
Comrade Razaq Saidu, General Secretary of ANAP, in an interview with our correspondent, said the strike by NiMet staff would have commenced on August 22, 2018, but the quick intervention of the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Airport Command, led to the suspension of the action.
He said the AIGP had called for a meeting between the management and the union and the three-week grace period was agreed on by both parties.
He lamented that the current conditions of service of the workers had been stagnant since 2010, while sister agencies in the industry had improved on their staff welfare.
“We cannot allow the situation to remain stagnated. Workers’ welfare must be compulsorily taken care of so as to improve their proficiency on the job. During the last meeting, the DG gave us his presentation and we also gave him ours.
“We further demanded that none of our members, especially the union leaders in NiMet, should be reprimanded or transferred due to union activities, as doing so would amount to victimisation, which is against Civil Service regulations, Trade Union Act and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention,” Saidu stated.
In July, the union accused the management of poor conditions of service for workers, as well as bias in recruitment.
The union said it issued the management of NiMET a six-month ultimatum, which elapsed in August 2018, to address the lopsidedness in the agency, noting that till date, the management was yet to address the issues identified by the union.
In one of its petitions, the union accused the management of bias in the recent employment exercise in the agency, in which about 200 workers from one geopolitical zone, were allegedly issued employment letters.
It was gathered that most of the new recruits were placed on Grade Level 17, a situation, which caused disaffection in the agency, as the new staff were said to be placed above old workers who deserve promotion.
Other issues on the table included training and retraining of staff, promotion and filling existing vacancies in the agency, NiMET station and operational facilities, update on NiMET condition of service, and staff ex-gratia.
Saidu added that ANAP had written letters requesting for a specific date for a meeting with the NiMET management to resolve the issues since 2017 without success, noting that some of the letters written in November 2017 and March 2018, not been responded to by NiMET management.