Once again, aviation workers have shown that, when workers dare to struggle, they dare to win. Following failed attempts by the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) to get the management of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) to negotiate salary increases for workers in the company, the two unions declared an indefinite strike on 23 January.
But after just one day of the strike, NAHCO was forced to come back to the negotiation table. The strike was called off based on concrete assurances. And by the end of the week, workers in NAHCO had cause to smile, with significant increases in their remuneration.
The Collective Agreement reached has resulted in 31%, 20% and 12.5% increment in the salaries of supervisors, assistant managers and senior managers, respectively. This salary increment will “be on gross pay and shall be effective from 1 January 2023.”
There were attempts to blackmail the aviation unions for embarking on industrial action. Several mainstream media houses highlighted the strike’s disruption of both domestic and international flights. They cared less for the fact that many aviation workers’ take home pay can barely take them home.
What applies to NAHCO equally applies to Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCOL) , the second of the two handling companies in the aviation sector. Haven won the battle with NAHCO, ATSSSAN and NUATE served SAHCOL notice.
SAHCOL backed down in the face of workers’ power. It has also begun negotiation with the unions, and a similar increment to that won from NAHCO is on the horizon for SAHCOL workers.
Speaking with Socialist Worker Weekly, Comrade Frances Akinjole, the Principal Deputy General Secretary of ATSSSAN said: “we will not relent in the fight for workers’ welfare.”
Workers in other sectors should draw inspiration from aviation workers: when we dare to struggle, we dare to win!.
by Yusuf LAWAL