Over a hundred aviation staff at the Freetown International Airport (FNA) have embarked on a strike over their salaries and working conditions, leading to flight delays and disruptions at the airport.

The staff are protesting over low wages, with local workers reportedly being paid only $65 per month, a stark contrast to the reported $12,000 earned by international staff. The discrepancy in wages has triggered the protest, and the workers have vowed to continue the strike until their demands are met.

The strike, which began on Sunday evening, saw all aviation staff leaving their posts, causing delays and operational difficulties at the airport. The workers gave the management a deadline of Tuesday to address their concerns, failing which the strike will persist. They are calling for an increase in their salaries and allowances, citing the inadequate house allowance of Le250,000 per month as a major point of contention.

Reports indicate that staff have been in discussions with the management regarding their grievances in recent days, with little progress made. The timing of the strike coincides with the visit of Juana Flower, the Head of Westminster Company, to the country. During a meeting with staff, Flower reportedly warned employees against taking any disruptive actions and cautioned those who were sending messages on WhatsApp forums.

The Director General of the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA), Madam Musayeroh Barrie, is allegedly involved in protecting the government’s interests in the matter. However, she has also purportedly threatened to terminate the employment of staff members whom she views as sabotaging the airport’s operations. The SLCAA was established to provide independent professional oversight of international and domestic air transport and cargo services, ensuring compliance with international agreements and obligations related to civil aviation.

The ongoing strike disrupted airport operations, leading to flight delays and inconveniences for passengers. The aviation staff’s demand for fair wages and improved working conditions and the need for a resolution to be reached swiftly to minimize disruptions to the airport’s operations and to address the workers’ concerns.