A glimpse of hope arose for the over 5,000 former staff of the defunct national carrier, Nigeria Airways, as the minister of state for aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced the government’s readiness to clear their pension arrears after the Easter holiday.
The minister gave the hint at the Fourth Aviation Stakeholders Forum held in Abuja on Thursday, where urged the affected ex-workers to be patient with the government till the nation gets back to work next week.
He explained that the government was awaiting the approval of the Senate after the House of Representatives had done same to secure legal backing for the release of N45b for the exercise.
“The House of Representatives has passed the payment, the Senate says it will pass it after the Easter break. So, there is no need to close down the economy of the country.
“You don’t need to close the airspace, in this hard times we have been able to raise N45 billion to pay for the pension arrears owed the workers,” he said, adding that government was committed to the welfare of workers.
Unions in the aviation sector alongside the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) as well as the United Labour Congress (ULC) had on March 19 issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government after which failure to effect payment of the pension arrear would spark a major labour unrest in the sector.
The Ex-staff of the defunct national carrier had earlier petitioned Alhaji Umar Faruk Umar, the Emir of Daura, President Muhammadu Buhari’s home town, over the non-payment of their final severance packages duly approved by the Federal Government in May 2017.
Writing under the aegis of Aviation Unions Grand Alliance (AUGA), the petitioners accused the minister of finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, of non-nonchalance in carrying out President Buhari’s order to pay up their pension and other entitlements.
They also decried the delay in the payment several months after its approval.