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Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Flights grounded, passengers stranded as unions shutdown Lagos airport

Hundreds of passengers were on Wednesday

stranded as protesting members of the aviation

unions shutdown operations at the Murtala

Muhammed Airport 2, operated by Bi-Courtney

Aviation Services Limited.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that

the unions embarked on the protest alleging

BASL’s sacking of 20 employees who indicated

interest to unionise.

The protesting unions are the National Union of

Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport

Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria

(ATSSSAN) and the National Association of

Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE).

As early as 6am, the union members, who defied

early morning downpour, barricaded the entrance

to the MMA2.

Their action came in spite of a court order

restraining them from embarking on the protest.

The unionists, who chanted various solidarity

songs, accused BASL management of violating

extant labour laws by not recognising the unions

and preventing staff from joining unions in the

sector.

They prevented passengers going to catch their

early morning flights, and also airline officials and

people with businesses inside the terminal from

gaining access to the premises.

The protest also caused heavy vehicular traffic

around the airport environment, which spiraled to

some parts of Ikeja and the Agege Motor Road.

Airlines affected by the action include Arik Air,

Medview Airline, Azman Air, Max Air, Dana Air and

Aero Contractors, which operate flights from the

terminal.

There was heavy presence of security operatives

including the Police and officers of the Nigeria Air

Force in the area during the protest.

Mr Frances Akinjole, General Secretary, ATSSSAN,

told NAN that the unions were compelled to carry

out the action following the refusal of the BASL

management to accede to their demands.

Akinjole said: ”This issue started since May when

these workers were laid off for indicating interest

to belong to unions.

“We met the management asking them to

reinstate these workers and recognise their rights

to join unions but they refused.

“The regulator of the industry, the Nigerian Civil

Aviation Authority (NCAA) as well as aviation

security agencies have intervened in series of

meetings, but BASL management has refused to

do the needful to avert this crisis.”

Akinjole denied knowledge of any court order

restraining the unions from carrying out the action,

stressing that what they were doing had legal

backings.

Also, Mr Olayinka Abioye, General Secretary,

NUATE, said the unions had issued the notice of

strike to the public to afford travelers the

opportunity of making alternative traveling

arrangements.

Abioye urged the union members to remain calm

and refuse any form of provocation by security

agencies deployed to quell the protest.

However, Bi-Courtney in a statement issued by its

spokesman, Mr Steve Omolale, said the company

had obtained a court order from the Federal High

Court, Lagos, restraining the unions from shutting

down Nigeria’s only privately-owned terminal.

“We will like to bring it to the attention of the

entire public that the Federal High Court in Lagos

in suit number FHC/L/CS/16412/18 has granted

an order restraining the unions from carrying out

their threats of disrupting the activities of the

terminal.

“Pursuant to this order, members of the unions

found in the premises of MMA2 would be liable

to trespass.

“We reserve our right under the law of Nigeria to

deal with such person as a trespasser,” he said.

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