Except an urgent redemptive measure is taken to address the lingering poor remuneration of staff at the Akwa Ibom International Airport, an imminent industrial action is on course as the National Union of Air Transport Employees and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Akwa Ibom State Chapter have drawn the battle line with government. In a statement tagged “wrong use of circulars to circumvent approved conditions of service” addressed to the Head of Civil Service and made available to The Sensor yesterday, it stated that “The collation of Labour Unions in Ibom Int’l Airport hereby express their utmost displeasure at the untoward means being utilized by your office in fulfilling agreed terms negotiated and enshrined in the IADCL condition of service/salary structure barely 9 months after it was signed into law”.
“This is most evident in the recent circular that attempts to reduce our leave transport grant from the approved 10% annual gross salary to a paltry 10% annual basic salary. “This circular is ill-conceived, oppressive and an exhibition of the disdain held by government for the diligent employees of this airport and negates their commitment to abide by agreements. We believe your vast experience and expertise on this issue should have prevailed over this deceptive manoveure to short-change employees”. The statement, jointly signed by the Secretary, ATSSAN, Udoudo Augustine and Secretary, NUATE, Kufre Inyang adds “As we await the official rescission of this retrogressive circular, we regret to inform your office that unpleasant consequences albeit legal might follow if this trend is not stopped immediately”. It however, stated that a full blown industrial action is already slated for 21st December 2014. Meanwhile, the Deputy General Secretary of ATSSSAN, Tarnongu N. Captain, had in a letter dated 17th November, 2014 written to the state Head of Civil Service, said they were most disturbed that after exhaustive negotiation, government and management have not maintained fidelity with the letters and spirits of the approved agreement. “… We are left with no other logical positions than to give the management and government of Akwa Ibom 21 days ultimatum from the day of receipt of this letter to commence, effect and correct all the issue raised on welfare matters of staff. Failure on the government and management, we shall not hesitate to declare full blown industrial dispute and take any other legitimate steps at our disposal, “ the letter stated. Among the issues raised for resolution include: the full implementation of allowances negotiated as contained in the conditions of service approved for the Airport Company by the government of Akwa Ibom State, confirmation of all appointments and granting promotions to all staff who are over-due before the end of December 2014, commencing the immediate payment of back log of arrears on leave/grant owed operation staff for 2 years. Others are: implementation of 23.5% salary, increment of 2011 to commensurate with staff of state civil service since the Airport salary structure are built from the state government salary scales, effect the full payment of all outstanding party paid 15% salary increment to all staff to date. However, efforts to reach out to the commissioner for Special Duties, Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem, proved futile as several calls and text messages to his mobile were not answered.