Industry think tank group, Aviation Safety Round Table initiative ( ART), Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) among many other stakeholders have come out to flay the impunity with which the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) assaulted the aviation industry.
Last week, Air Peace alleged a N400 loss following what it describes as lack of protection for its operations as Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) officials massively disruption of the airline’s operations into Owerri, the Imo state capital from Lagos and Abuja and vice-versa over an unrelated dispute.
The airline had lamented stating that aviation borders on national security and the country has been made a laughing stock in the world. READ ALSO: <strong>Air Peace accuses NLC,TUC of targeting its operations following unions’ rift with Gov. Uzodinma </strong>
This insensitive move by the NLC/TUC has triggered reactions from far and wide, putting the industry in the limelight on the global stage for all the wrong reasons as the ART in a statement signed by Assistant Secretary, Mr Olumide Ohunayo has called on the Federal Government through the ministries of Labour and Aviation to address these disruptive activities of the labour unions decisively.
According to the statement, the nation also needs to encourage organisations in the industry to activate protective Crisis Management mechanisms to mitigate the consequences of these disruptive strike actions and seek appropriate legal remedies to redeem losses caused by them.
The ART while condemning the unwholesome and persistent disruption of flights in Lagos and Abuja respectively by members of the unions, opined that a supposedly peaceful agitation by unions should not cross the boundary of tolerability as stated in Section 43 of the Trade Unions Act. Cap.T14, LFN,2004.
The statement read, “What we have witnessed in the recent past is the disruptive picketing which barricades entrances to airport terminals, premises, wilful attack on airline counters and prevention of non participating workers who wish to continue working. The ART considers these as threats to safety, security and corporate existence of organisations within the aviation environment.
“The ART condemns unequivocally, the disruptive activities in Abuja and Lagos based on alleged labour dispute with the Imo State government. ART considers as reckless these unwarranted actions which adversely affected an ailing industry struggling to recover from Covid- 19 pandemic disruptions and the persistently high operational cost.
Meanwhile, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, MD FAAN who described the NLC action as ‘very disappointing’, said that the NLC acted in clear disregard with impunity.
He said, “They wrote to us that their people in aviation should come and picket the Lagos Airport and they should not allow flights to go to Owerri Airport because their members were harassed by the Imo State Government.’They deliberately planned that action just to massage their ego. It has nothing to do with staff, workers or even the aviation industry and Nigeria.
‘For any organisation that is licensed by the government to behave in personal interest and not national interest, it is very unfortunate. It has nothing to do with labourers or workers in Nigeria.He argued that on the contrary In fact, the unions undermined aviation and other workers because people lost their flights. What happened that day is very regrettable and just a sign of ego massage and I think that has no place in aviation.
Yadudu went on, “Second reason, it is illegal. The Nigeria Civil Aviation Act has put aviation as an essential service and in essential services, there is no room for picketing or blocking of operations because all Nigerians need it. The NLC themselves, I don’t think they are up to 200 million and Nigeria has a population of 200 million. So, they should not come and massage their ego at the airport where it is already prohibited by law.
“They created an illegality and undermined the nation. The act was all over the world and I think it is very bad and unacceptable. We are not going to take it from them.
“In fact when we saw it, I have spent the last three days at FAAN coordinating it and we have written a strongly worded letter to the Minister of Aviation, calling on the government to directly protect aviation from NLC and similar actions. There are so many other avenues in Nigeria where you can seek redress. This is not the 1970s; Nigeria has evolved, aviation has evolved. Everything has evolved and NLC needs to evolve in their processes and their ways and means of getting what they want.
“In conclusion, NLC should stay away from aviation. I didn’t say stay away from FAAN, but from the airport generally. As long as they keep on picketing, they should stay away. We need stakeholders’ confidence. If the industry is killed through lack of confidence, nobody will come in. It is Nigeria that will lose. So, NLC should stay away from aviation; airlines, catering services, ground handling, agencies. We don’t need a negative influence on our staff. The whole world doesn’t need mob action”