Nigeria airport workers’ strike bites harder

Thursday October 11 2018

A Nigeria Airways aircraft at the Murtala

A Nigeria Airways aircraft at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, before the airline was liquidated. Hundreds of passengers were stranded at the airport's domestic section after workers went on strike on October 10, 2018. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Airline operators have been forced to make alternative arrangements to fly their passengers as the strike at the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2), Lagos, enters the second day.

Aviation union members continued their picketing at the terminal on Thursday over the sacking of their colleagues.

The airlines have moved their passenger boarding and processing to the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), operated by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

The striking groups are the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE).

They are protesting the alleged sacking of 24 employees by the Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), the operators of the MMA2, for showing interest in joining the unions.

Business activities

The unions continued to shutdown flights and business activities at the MMA2, despite a Federal High Court order in Lagos, restraining them from the action.

Airlines affected by the action included Arik Air, Medview Airline, Azman Air, Max Air, Dana Air and Aero Contractors.

Mr Kingsley Ezenwa, the Corporate Communications Manager for Dana Air, said on Thursday that their decision to move passengers to GAT, was reached on Wednesday after they were prevented from entering MMA2.

”We have made an alternative arrangement since yesterday and at the moment, the strike is still ongoing but we are hoping that everything will be resolved as soon as possible.

Their passengers

“First, we are apologising to our guests for any inconveniences caused by this development," he said.

Mr Ezenwa said the airlines operating at MMA2 had incurred huge losses since the strike began, adding that they still had to pay FAAN to process their passengers at the GAT.

Arik Air spokesman Adebanji Ola said the airline, which operates its Port Harcourt flights out of MMA2, had temporary moved back to its hub at GAT.

“We informed our Port Harcourt passengers since yesterday to go to our counter at GAT for boarding, pending when the strike will be called off, ” he said.

The interim

ATSSSAN Secretary-General Frances Akinjole, said that the unions would continue the protest until the sacked workers were reinstated and the BASL management recognised the unions in the sector.

He also confirmed that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and security agencies had tried to intervene in the issue.

“We will continue to barricade MMA2 until the management accedes to our demands because what we are doing here is lawful, ” he said.

BASL spokesman Steve Omolale, however, flayed the unions for the continued disruption of business and flights despite being aware of the interim court order.

Mr Omolale said BASL would not mix up issues since the matter was already before a competent court.