The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) has described as commendable the federal government’s intervention fund of N1 trillion through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to mitigate the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic, especially on the aviation industry.
NUATE president, Mr. Ben Nnabue in a statement expressed the union is hopeful that the sector will receive the lion share.
Mr. Nnabue noted that against the background of the view that the adverse effects of the Coronavirus on aviation far outstrips the impact of 911 for which aviation received quite substantial interventions all over the world.
He urged that the modalities for the application of the fund be quickly made public so that benefits of released monies will begin to manifest as quickly as possible.
He said “In this regard we are of the opinion that the positive handling of labour issues by the companies should be among the criteria to be used in accessing the fund.”
The body calls on all aviation agencies to activate, and scale up, their coronavirus response modes, adding that it expects an integrated mechanism that incorporates the entire airport activities nationwide led by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
“This mechanism should in turn be integrated with the national response system. May we therefore be expectant of very urgent and effective steps towards prevention of the entrance of the ailment into the aviation workplace, and/or curtailing it in the event that the worst happens.”
Alluding to labour issues that may arise as the result of collosal losses by the airlines due to travel restrictions and ban, Nnabue said, “the colossal losses arising from this state of affairs has created a very serious labour challenge. As the airlines, especially the international carriers, and the companies dependent on them count their losses, there is now a present danger that the workforce might take a hit as well. This is a matter of serious concern to NUATE as a labour union.”
He urged labour leaders to look at the situation on ground and toe the line of discussion and dialogue, affirming ”All stakeholders, ourselves more than others, must share the worry of the affected aviation companies. We truly sympathise with their situation. And there is a genuine fear that some of the smaller entities might be unable to survive the crush. This type of circumstance calls for sober thoughts.
“On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the workers of these companies are real human beings with real human needs. The unfortunate situation of their companies does not diminish the bills they have to bear. If anything, the psychological trauma imposed by this condition may likely lead to health issues and cause greater spending. This unfortunate, paradoxical inter-relationship between the companies and their workers truly begs for understanding of the deepest kind.
“Flowing from the foregoing, we wish to inform all the impacted aviation companies that NUATE stands firmly with them as a social partner. And we throw our doors open for discussions with them for the purpose of arriving at workable grounds upon which both sides will ride this testing period. We thank those companies that have already approached us in this respect.”