Operations of Arik Air were on Monday shut down by aviation unions over alleged non payment of staff salaries since April after placing 90 per cent of the workforce on compulsory leave and other anti-labour practices.

The unions included the National Union of Air Transport
Employees (NUATE) and Air Transport Senior Staff Services
Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN).
In Lagos, all Arik Air operations were shut down including
airlines as passengers expressed reservations.

Mr Innocent Atasie, Chairman, ATSSSAN, Arik Air Branch,
said that the workers resolved to shut down Arik operations
nationwide when all efforts made to resolve the problem
failed.

Atasie said that the unions were miffed that there had been no
payment of staff salaries since April after placing 90 per cent
of the workforce on compulsory leave.
The unions said the strike would continue indefinitely, until
their demands were met by the management of Arik Air.

Their demands included payment of outstanding salaries
arrears, signing of Conditions of Service, remittance of
Pension, Tax, and statutory deductions to the appropriate
authorities and to resolve other anti-labour issues.

Others were payment of salary arrears of seven months, with
a commitment to pay salaries as at when due, henceforth.
Atasie said that the unions also wanted the immediate review
of all employee remunerations which had remained stagnant
since the inception of Arik Air, over 10 years ago.

He said that the unions decided to shut down all operations
nationwide when all efforts by the unions were aborted.

On September 13, the management of Arik Air asked for the
intervention of the Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, over
the planned industrial action by unions scheduled to commence on September 14.

The Chief Executive Officer of Arik, Capt. Roy Ilegbodu, made the appeal in a letter to the minister entitled, “Re-Unions in Arik Air threaten to down tools.

At local terminals in Lagos, stranded Arik Air passengers
expressed disappointment over the airlines shut down without informing the passengers.

A passenger, Mr Julius Anifowoshe, said: ”I was shocked when l came to the airport about 6.30a.m. to board and found out that the airline workers are on strike without due notification.

”I’m forced to buy another ticket from another airline to meet
up with my appointment in Abuja.
”Government should sanction Arik Air for not reaching out through text messages or e-mail to customers on the planned
strike.

“I’m going to seek refund of my money whenever I am back
to Lagos. Arik Air took customers for granted,” he said.

Another passenger, Mrs Beatrice Ikechukwu, expressed disappointment over sudden shut down of the operations
without due notice to passengers.
Ikechukwu said ” I have to source for money to buy another ticket for what I did not plan for.

“Arik Air operational system is porous, nobody came to address passengers on what was happening. This is really
pathetic and disheartening,” she said.
However, Mr Adebanji Ola, the Communications Manager of Arik Air, said that the management scheduled a meeting with the unions on September 15 to resolve all matters.

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