By Adekunle Williams/Solomon Asowata
Two aviation unions on Monday urged the Federal Government to consider the interest of workers in the sector as it goes ahead with the plan to concession the four major airports in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the unions are: The Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE).
The unions said that they would resist the disengagement of their members, which might occur due to the concession.
The Federal Government had recently announced Infrata, Dentons, Rebel, WSP Parsons Brinkckerhoff, Proserve as the five Transaction Advisers for the handling of the concession of the Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt Airports.
The National President of ATSSSAN, Mr Illitrus Ahmadu, told NAN that the overall interest of aviation workers should be taken into consideration by the government before concessioning the airports.
Ahmadu said the unions had made their positions known to the government long time ago, adding that negotiations were ongoing between the unions and the government.
“The recent unveiling of the transaction advisers for airports concession is one of the processes and there will be constant engagement with the government and the advisers for transparency,” he said.
Ahmadu said the unions were optimistic that the Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, would keep to his promise that the jobs of their members would not be affected by the concession.
“We will take the minister’s words to the bank; we are assuring our members that we will engage the transactions advisers that were appointed by the minister for the airports concession.
“We will also engage with the government to ensure that whatever mode of transaction they will adopt will be in the best interest of the Nigerians, the industry and our members,” he said.
Ahmadu said that what the government was trying to do was to increase the fortune of the industry.
He said the unions had all agreed that the airports were not in the best shape when compared with other airports around the world.
“Our airports need infrastructure expansion of which the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) does not have the resources as a result of one reason or the other.
“We are interested in ensuring that public utilities remains in the hands of the government, but where there are issues, then the interest of workers should be protected,” he said.
Similarly, Capt. Frank Igwe, the Public Relations Officer of NAAPE, urged the transaction advisers and government to carry the unions along with the process of airport concession for transparency.
“We are not against airport concession or national carrier by the government. It is a welcome development for the industry.
“However, we will not tolerate loss of jobs by our members and that is why there is an ongoing engagement between the unions and the government.
“With respect to airport concession, we have expressed our concern about giving out four airports out of 22 managed by FAAN and these airports are the major sources of revenue for FAAN.
“If you take out four then, what happens to the remaining airports, because basically it is the revenue from the viable airports that are used to maintain the other ones,” he said.