Unions Initiate Indefinite Strike, Stranding Passengers Nationwide

Aviation unions strike
Passengers, airport workers and vendors barricaded outside the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) as the strike continues

Yesterday’s threat prompted aviation unions, backed by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), to initiate an indefinite strike on Monday morning. Passengers at Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) in Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), and other airports nationwide are stranded.

Passengers can be seen all over with luggage around airport facilities, unable to go in. Others suffer from the harrowing experience of dragging humongous luggage behind them while looking for a way out of the melee.

The strike was enacted following the breakdown of negotiations between the Government and unions over the minimum wage crisis.

Passengers Barred from Access

Passengers who had planned to board flights to different destinations were barred from boarding as aviation unions locked the entrance gate to the domestic terminal of the Lagos airport. Airlines scheduled to take off from Lagos and Abuja airports were denied access to the terminals, thereby crippling flight activities. Pictures shown of terminal buildings at various airports were virtually empty. Reports also have it that hajj operations currently ongoing nationwide is affected too.

Unions carrying placards and banners were stationed around the domestic terminals in large numbers to press home their demand. Reports indicate that the situation at the Abuja airport mirrors that of Lagos, with unions barricading terminal entrances. Travelers were advised to return home, awaiting resolution between organized labor and the Federal Government.

Passenger Reactions

Mustafa Habib, speaking to NigerianFLIGHTDECK, expressed frustration, asking, “Who will take care of the issue now?” He was aware of the strike but didn’t anticipate its impact. My folly. I could have rented a Sienna to Abuja for less instead of this hassle. Who will reimburse us not just for money but for what we are going through?”

A female traveler, frazzled by the situation, told our correspondent, “This is so unreal. I don’t know what to do next. Whether to drag this luggage back and wait it out, but my ticket fee is high. Now, I’d start airline issues.”

Airlines Respond

Airlines have already started putting up notices to inform passengers of the situation. Although they insist, they have not stopped operating, the unions compel them not to fly. An operator told our correspondent that the unforeseeable circumstances and last-minute negotiation breakdown make the situation a force majeure. United Nigeria, Ibom Air and Arik Air have all shared statements, explaining their current situation in ferrying passengers.

International Flights Unaffected – For Now

Meanwhile, unions kept flights at international airports undisrupted, planning to commence the strike there starting tomorrow, Tuesday. A statement from the National Union of Air Transport Employees, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, and Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals declared:

“We hereby inform the general public, aviation service providers, airline operators, and aviation businesses that services will be withdrawn. All aviation workers nationwide should know that starting from 0000hrs of June 3, 2024, all Nigerian airports will close. Being aware that many international flights to Nigeria are already airborne, we will start the strike at international terminals on June 4, 2024.”

Comrade Ocheme Aba, General Secretary of NUATE; Comrade Abdul Rasaq Saidu, Secretary General of ANAP; Comrade Frances Akinjole, Deputy General Secretary of ATSSSAN; and Comrade Olayinka Abioye, General Secretary of NAAPE, signed the statement.

The unions vowed that they would not call off the strike unless the government agreed to their demand of over N400,000 minimum wage for each worker.


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