By Dipo Olowookere
Federal Government has been given a 14-day ultimatum to pay the N45 billion severance package of former workers of the Nigeria Airways, which was liquidated by the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
This ultimatum was given by three key unions in the nation’s aviation sector in a petition dated March 19, 2018 and addressed to the Minister of State for Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, and copied to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige; and the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun.
The three unions are the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN).
The petition, made available to newsmen on Sunday, was signed by Ocheme Aba for NAAPE, Frances Akinjole for ATSSSAN and Olayinka Abioye for NUATE.
They accused the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, of wilfully delaying the payment of the severance package despite approval by the government.
The unions said if after 14 days the affected former aviation workers were not paid by the government, they would embark on a nationwide strike.
In the petition, the unions wondered why the former Nigeria Airways employees had not been paid over six months after the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
They accused Mrs Adeosun of being insensitive to the plight of the pensioners.
“We will not wait until the entire workers of the former national carrier die before taking steps to ensure that they are paid their benefits,” the unions said.
“It is disheartening that the Minister of Finance has unconsciously and negatively prioritised the President’s directive on this matter. She has equally in a most uncaring manner, refused to heed all entreaties by the hapless ex-workers.
“Not even the cries of the growing list of the avoidable deaths and other afflictions created by their excruciating conditions of existence had pinched the minister’s ear. Our previous letters to the minister have failed to move her just as an earlier letter from the Nigeria Labour Congress on the matter.
“As we can no longer wait for all the ex-staff of the Nigeria Airways to die before their entitlements are paid, we are, therefore, compelled to force Adeosun to come to terms with the reality of the situation.
“In view of the above, we are sad to inform you that all workers in the aviation sector will commence an indefinite industrial action in 14 days should the ex-Nigeria Airways workers fail to receive their entitlements as approved,” the petition read.
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