Sirika cancels planned meeting with FAAN workers
• As workers condemn FG concession plan
Workers at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) have condemned the concession plan of four of the most viable airport terminals across the country warning that if the concession plan was allowed to go on as planned that it would be detrimental to the 12,500 workers of the organisation.
Speaking at a protest held by the aviation unions to serve as a warning strike over what they called the failure of FAAN management to meet their demands earlier tabled before the management, the workers through the unions lamented how the organization was making use of the old pension scheme as it lacked the financial resources to pay to the Pension Fund Administration amounting to N200 billion excluding the benefits of the 12,500 substantive staff.
The unions consisting of the National Union of Air Transports Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) who had on October 7 threatened to go on strike in seven days over the increasing delay of workers ‘salaries carried out their threat by blocking the entrance to the headquarters of FAAN, ahead of a town hall meeting called by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, to discuss the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic on the agency.
An advance party comprising the Managing Director of FAAN, Captain Rabiu Yadudu and Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, Captain Musa Nuhu and other directors were prevented into the venue of the town hall meeting inside the Freedom Square.
The Minister who had intended to address the workers, however, changed his plans after arriving Lagos by proceeding to Caverton Helicopters where he inspected facilities and jettisoned going to meet with the FAAN workers.
Speaking on behalf of other unions, the General Secretary of NUATE, Ocheme Aba, lamented that workers had denied remuneration for months saying:
“The workers of FAAN have been denied their full remunerations for several months. They have been paying their salaries in a haphazard manner and practically all the deductions and very significantly, the deductions to cooperatives which many of the workers invest in and which is where they actually get their sustenance has not been remitted for years.
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“It is on record that some staff of the authority contributes about 80 per cent of their salary. So when you pay the salary without remitting to the particular cooperative they are associated with, it means such people have earned only 20 per cent of their salary because the other means by which they have to complement their activities through the cooperatives is denied. For a number of months, we have been battling this situation to no avail.
“Last month, they paid the junior staff, they paid the senior staff two weeks and they paid only 50 per cent. In this period, when you give someone salary under that atmosphere, it is like not giving any salary at all. At this moment, it is on record that it is only the workers of FAAN (government workers) that are not earning salaries normally which is very unfortunate.”
While insisting that the concession policy of the Federal Government will shortchange Nigeria and Nigerians, Ocheme declared: “The workers have said vehemently that it is over their dead body that this concession will see the light of day. the grounds they are saying this has been established severally by our unions in all strata of government including the national assembly.
“We have tried to explain to them why this particular model of concession that the Minister is trying to apply with shortchange Nigerians and Nigeria. We have explained particularly that these four airports are already concessioned airports. They are concessioned to the CCECC who are building the terminals.
“The CCECC and FAAN already have an arrangement of sharing the proceeds from the terminals. If you now concession these terminals to another company, who will pay the 60 per cent of the proceeds on these terminals. This means you are leaving FAAN with its 40 per cent from which they will have to pay for the loan, return 25 per cent to the Federal Government based on the Fiscal Responsibility Act and they also have to maintain the other 18 airports, which is crazy, fraudulent and an act of foolishness of the highest order.”