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Akwa Ibom Airport Averts Industrial Action

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The proposed industrial action by workers of Akwa Ibom International Airport, earlier slated for Friday 26th April, 2013 has been suspended indefinitely.

This decision came, arising from the resolutions reached at the congress of the Joint Action Unions at Akwa Ibom International Airport, the management of Ibom Airport Development Company Ltd in compliance with the approval of the Board of Directors of Ibom Airport Development Company Ltd and the Ministry of Special Duties, a press statement said Thursday.

In a letter addressed to the Management of the airport, the Akwa Ibom Airport Branch Chairman of National Union Of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Okpo Daniel Asuquo announced the suspension of the proposed strike action.

The letter reads in part: “this is to notify you that the Chairman and Executive members of National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) in a joint congress with Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSAN) held at Workers Solidarity Centre on Thursday April 25, 2013, unanimously decided to suspend the proposed industrial action scheduled to commence on Friday April 26, 2013, till further notice.”

Similarly, the airport authorities in a release signed by the Managing Director commended the leadership of the Unions for their heroic show of patriotism and level – headedness which have paved way for the continuation of bilateral negotiations with a view to resolving all issues in contention.

The released further advised all staff, service providers and the general public go about their normal business at the Ibom Airport as they are assured of normal operations.

Meanwhile, the staff of the Akwa Ibom International airport have been assured that their interests are always paramount in the scheme of the Government of Chief Godswill Akpabio, and as such they need not embark on an illegitimate means in their quest for improved welfare.

The board Chairman of Ibom Airport Development Company (IADL), Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga stated this during a meeting between the board and the airport staff at the airport.

He said the management of the airport was appreciative of the sacrifices made by the staff of the airport but advised that they should refrain from actions that are capable of jeopardizing the security and safety of the airport.

Otuekong Nkanga maintained that the staff owe the state government a level of responsibility, even in their agitations for improved welfare, by imbibing discipline and humility.

He said that labour leaders in any organization are accountable to both the employers and their employees and should accept to dialogue peacefully with the State Bureau of Labour and Productivity to arrive at a standard and acceptable workers’ condition of service.

The board chairman insisted that without a standard condition of service, the workers will have no legal backing to buttress their claims for welfare improvement.

Nkanga maintained that the Akwa Ibom International Airport had the highest staff population within the region, and this is because of the long term intention of the State Government to have ready hands when the second phase expansion programme of the airport is completed; and this include the Maintenance Repairs and Overhaul facility and the new International Terminal and the new taxiway which are currently under construction.

Also speaking, the commissioner for Special Duties Barr Austin Mbeh condemned the intention of the airport labour union to bring in external labour leaders from Lagos in the negotiation process, and advised them to be judged by their conscience.

Commissioner Mbeh urged them to follow due process so that their grievances could be effectively met, maintaining that failure to reach an understanding could result in undesirable consequences.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Technical Matters, Engr. Etido Inyang informed the aviation workers that the condition of service was ready, but insisted on the need for them to apply caution while dialoguing with the Bureau of Labour, so that the issues could be acceptably addressed.

Engr Inyang warned against blowing trivial issues out of proportion through the press especially in areas that could be amicably resolved with dialogue.

Among issues which the airport staff highlighted at the meeting, were increase in salary and other welfare packages among others.