No pay directive: Rep counsels airlines to show empathy to employees

The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Mr Nnolim Nnaji, has appealed to airlines and private organisations within the sector not to abandon their staff in this period of uncertainties occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic.

Nnaji, representing Nkanu East/West Federal Constituency of Enugu State, made the appeal in a statement issued in Lagos on Thursday.

The lawmaker said he was disturbed by the memo issued to staff by Max Air to the effect that it would not pay its employees salaries for the period of the two weeks lockdown directed by the Federal Government.

Nnaji noted that the memo which had now gone viral further stressed that the condition of ‘no pay’ would extend if the situation persisted.

He said his major worry was that other organisations might follow suit, if care was not taken.

Nnaji however appealed to the management of the airline to reconsider this hard line posture by retracing its action in this regard.

The lawmaker also urged other organisations in the sector to see the trying period as a time of sacrifice and show extreme compassion to their staff.

He said: “I am aware that elsewhere, governments are providing palliatives for employers of labour to cushion the impact of this pandemic.

“However, because of our peculiar circumstances,  the federal government may not immediately offer such at the moment,” he said.

Nnaji said he was optimistic that some form of relief would definitely come at the end of the day to assist the airlines.

He therefore urged the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sariki, to step in and hold talks with various stakeholders in the industry to avoid ripple effects of Max Air action.

Also, Nnaji called for understanding among the people and leaders of the Southeast Region over the aborted reopening of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport (AIIA) Enugu before Easter as planned.

He lamented that the development was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic which had forced  workers of both the contractor and consultants handling the project out of site.

He assured that as soon as the prevailing pandemic died down,  work would resume at an accelerated speed and new date of inaugurating the airport would be unveiled.

Nnaji commended Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State  for the way and manner he had mobilised materials and human resources to curtail the spread of Coronavirus in the state.

He also urged residents of the state to cooperate with the state government by abiding to the instruction given on stay at home and social distancing. (NAN)