The management of Arik Air has dismissed at least 10 of its pilots for embarking on industrial action without due notice.
The Guardian learnt that the aggrieved pilots began strike this week in protest against protracted wage disparity between expatriate and Nigerian pilots that has still not been resolved by Arik Air.
The management, in a memo, yesterday, described the protest as an act of “indiscipline and callous,” especially at the peak period of festive travels and its attendant high demands.
Spokesperson of the airline, Banji Ola, said though the strike action affected operations of the airline, “we have been able to stabilise operation for scheduled services to customers”.
The management stated that a chunk of its pilots was dismissed for embarking on a strike action without recourse to laid down procedures.
“The pilots did not serve a strike notice in accordance with labour laws. They neither submitted any issue of dispute to the National Association of Airline Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), their umbrella union nor did they submit any statement of demands to the management of the company. There were also no ongoing discussions between the management and the pilots on any unresolved labour issues. Their actions were spontaneous and callous.
“Arik Air finds it rather treacherous of the pilots to contemplate a strike action at this yuletide season, which is the peak period for airlines all over the world. They peddle for naught the reputation and financial health of the company,” the airline stated.
The management of the airline has of late had discussions with relevant aviation unions, including the National Association of Airline Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), on conditions of service for all employees, and “this has led to the signing of a robust condition of service and redundancy benefits for staff.
“While great efforts have been made to minimise the impacts of the illegal strike action, some fully booked flights have had to be cancelled. Arik Air regrets the inconvenience caused by this action and is doing everything in its powers to minimise the impact and discomfort to its esteemed customers,” the management stated.
An ex-pilot of the airline, however, said Arik Air’s management should carry the can for ignoring “anti-workers and discriminatory policy against Nigerian pilots and engineers for too long.
“I used to be a victim of the same obnoxious policy way back in the days of Sir Ararume (Arik Air Chairman before its takeover by AMCON) and it is for that reason we are still in court three years on. For how long will Arik keep cheating its workforce and tell them not to complain?” he queried.