NUATE Accuses AMCON Of Exceeding Its Receivership Assignment

NUATE Accuses AMCON Of Exceeding Its Receivership Assignment

The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) has accused Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) of going beyond the boundary of its assignment in statement signed by NUATE General Secretary, Ocheme Aba during a protest at Arik Air today reads: “Presently, AMCON is in receivership of two airlines – Arik Air and Aero Contractors – being a 60% shareholder in the latter. One should then ask why AMCON would be floating another Airline. We smell a rat.

We decipher that AMCON’s unstated objective is to open a window of business opportunity as a way to recoup its heavy financial losses through the heavy debts in Arik and Aero. But, surely, NUATE can’t be the only ones wondering what sort of business ingenuity there could be in running three airlines simultaneously.

We have it on good authority that AMCON’s real intention is to sidestep the debt overhang, particularly in Arik air, while continuing to make money from the airline business without any real capital injection. This it intends to achieve by moving all valuable assets of Arik Air, including human asset, into the new NG Eagle. The questions are, what becomes of the carcass of Arik Air and its personnel after such evil wind?

Presently, AMCON has already moved some Personnel of Arik Air to NG Eagle while being loudly silent on the service records of such personnel in Arik Air. What happens to the previous years of service, or how assured is the security of such service in their new assignments? Or, shall such service be in vain?

AMCON and the management of Arik have arrogated to themselves the powers to probate and reprobate on all issues pertaining to status of employees in this ingenious business melodrama, with complete disregard to subsisting collective bargaining agreements and relevant labour laws. Is NUATE expected to cheer them on to the neglect of its responsibilities and obligations to its members in the airline?

If this conundrum by AMCON will lead to depopulation of the employed and increase in poverty, as is clearly established, shouldn’t one wonder why the Government and its relevant agencies appear to either be acquiescent or in actual aid of the furtherance of the obnoxious objective? Are we permitted to ask of our leaders the rationale behind the uninhibited aiding and abetting of this social-economic criminality?

While committing the societal aspects of this brazen effrontery to the court of public opinion, and urging urgent intervention by appropriate government agencies – Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Aviation, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, etc, we have raised the labour aspects before the Management of Arik Air as trade disputes. Should the Management raise itself to the needed open mindedness and heartedness, then, we are willing and desirous of resolving them amicably as expected of progressive social partners. Then, we shall welcome NG Eagle with our Solidarity Song and pop champagne.

But, in the event that the reverse of the above is the case, then we shall sing our Solidarity Song as a call to the struggle to fight for the rights of Arik Air’s long suffering employees. The ball is in their court.”

NUATE equally states that “it is the most open secret at this time in aviation here in Nigeria that the Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) has chosen to float a new Airline known as NG Eagle. As an aviation trade union, NUATE considers this to be a very positive and welcome development. A new airline would normally create job opportunities, provide incentives for deeper business penetration and generally widen the Nigerian aviation horizon. To these extents, all stakeholders, ourselves inclusive, must extend warm welcome to the NG Eagle when it finally unveils.

But, there are ominous signs that what should ordinarily be a lofty project will likely run into a heavy storm being created by a thoroughly fouled and convoluted industrial atmosphere at Arik Air. We consider it most unfortunate that an odd combination of AMCON’s egoistic, evasive and self-defeating tendencies on the one hand, and Arik Air’s unrelenting penchant for courting crisis on the other hand, as well as severally demonstrated lack of capacity/disdain for labour relations practice have evoked a perplexing atmosphere of forlornness in the Airline. Under this atmosphere, it is practically impossible to be hopeful of any good thing. Hence, our misgivings concerning NG Eagle.”

Addressing his colleagues earlier, NUATE President, Ben Nnabue said: “We live in a country where they value material asset more than human asset. Without the human asset, the machines will not work.”

He said the union had been in Arik asking them to open up on Nigeria Eagle issue but “they kept saying there is nothing like that, Even when our staff saw them painting NG plane, the kept telling us there is nothing like that.”

He said the union would declare strike in Arik Air if the problems of workers are not addressed.

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Albinus Chiedu

Albinus Chiedu is a journalist, aviation media consultant, events management professional, and author. He has practiced journalism since 2000.

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