Passengers across Nigeria were left stranded yesterday as aviation workers’ unions went on a two-day warning strike in protest of the non-implementation of their Conditions of Service (CoS) and other welfare-related issues. The strike action led to massive disruptions and partial grounding of flight operations, with over 70% of scheduled flights affected.
Scores of unionists blocked vehicular access to airports, terminals, and aviation agency offices, causing heavy traffic around Ikeja and other affected areas. Travellers were forced to walk a distance to meet up with their schedule, with the first set of flights delayed for about 90 minutes to two hours.
The coalition of aviation workers’ unions, which includes members of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP), and Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation Civil Service Technical and Recreation Services Employees (AUPCTRE), bemoaned non-implementation of the CoS about seven years after it was negotiated with the workers. They also rued non-implementation of minimum wage consequential adjustments and arrears for the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet) since 2019, and planned demolition of all the agency’s buildings in Lagos by the Minister of Aviation for an airport city project, without consideration for workers that would be displaced.
The General Secretary of AUPCTRE, Sikiru Waheed, said day one of the protest was to warn the travelling public to make other plans as they intend to shut down airports today. Waheed said day two of the strike would be more intense and appealed to everyone that intends to travel to shelve their plans because flights will be disrupted.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, appealed to the union to exercise patience, saying implementation of the CoS in some of the aviation agencies is work in progress. Sirika noted that the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission was carrying out assessments and would soon conclude the protocol.
In the meantime, the strike action is expected to continue today, leading to further disruptions and possible flight cancellations. Travellers are advised to contact their airlines for information on flight schedules and alternative arrangements.