Lawmaker urges airlines to show empathy to workers over no pay directive

• Calls for understanding on aborted reopening of Enugu airport

Nigeria’s House Committee Chairman on Aviation, Honourable Nnolim Nnaji, has appealed to airlines and private organisations within the aviation sector not to abandon their staff in this period of uncertainties occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic.

This was just as the Chairman used the opportunity to call for understanding among the people and leaders of the South-East Region over the aborted reopening of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport (AIIA) Enugu before Easter as planned.

Nnaji who represents Nkanu East/West Federal Constituency of Enugu State said he was disturbed by the memo issued to its staff by Max Air to the effect that it would not pay them salaries for the period of the two weeks lockdown directive by the Federal Government.

According to Nnaji: The memo which has now gone viral further stressed that the state of no pay would extend if the situation persisted and my major worry is that other organisations may do same if care is not taken.”

The lawmaker, however, appealed to the management of the airline to reconsider this hard-line posture by retracing its action in this regard and equally urged other organisations in the sector to see this trying period as a time of sacrifice and show extreme compassion to their staff.

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“I am aware that elsewhere, governments are providing palliatives for employers of labour to cushion the impact of this pandemic but because of our peculiar circumstances the Federal Government may not immediately offer such at the moment.”

Nnaji who said he was optimistic that some form of relief would definitely come at the end of the day to assist the airlines, urged the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sariki to step in and hold talks with the various stakeholders in the industry to avoid ripple effects of Max Air action.

On the delay suffered by the Enugu airport, Nnaji lamented that the development was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic which has forced the workers of both the contractor and consultants handling the project out of site.

The aviation committee chairman assured that as soon as the prevailing pandemic subsided that works would resume at an accelerated speed and new date of commissioning of the airport would be unveiled.

He was equally full of praises for the Governor of Enugu State, Rt Honourable Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, for the way and manner he said had mobilised materials and human resources to curtail the spread of coronavirus in Enugu urging the citizens of the state to cooperate with the state government by sticking to the instruction given on stay at home and social distancing.


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