MMA2: Air workers vow to continue strike against Bi-Courtney

Air operation not affected – Adurogboye, Yakubu

By Gboyega Oni

Air transport workers under the aegis of National Union of Air Transport Employees (NAUTE) have vowed to continue their industrial protest at MMA2 Terminal, Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria until the operator of the terminal, Bi-Courtney Nigeria Limited, yields to their demands.

On Wednesday October 10, 2018, air flight operation at MMA2 Terminal was grounded by protesting air transport workers over poor conditions of service and unjust sacking of staff by Bi-Courtney Limited for unionising.

NAUTE was not alone in the protest as it was joined by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to disrupt air operation while the two gates leading into the terminal were locked up thus preventing air passengers and other ancillary service providers from gaining entrance into the terminal.

Speaking with PortNews at the scene of the protest, Comrade Olayinka Abioye, Secretary General of NAUTE, made the vow and noted that the protest was declared to achieve two things – to compel Bi-Courtney to allow workers to freely express their freedom of joining trade unions or associations of their choice as provided by the constitution and also to call for the reinstatement of workers who were unjustly sacked by the terminal management for joining labour unions.

Comrade Olayinka Abioye who maintained that the action of Bi-Courtney was ‘criminal’ informed that the protest would last longer than expected and might take another more decisive dimensions as from Thursday October 11, 2018 as long as the Bi-Courtney management refuses to listen to their demands and words of wisdom.

Regretting the inconvenience the protest might have caused air passengers and airlines, Abioye said that airlines and other ancillary service providers in the terminal had been informed of the protest and the reason for it, saying that the impact of the strike on the economy could not outweigh the damaging impact of unjust sacking in the different homes of the affected workers.

Mr. Steve Omolale, spokesman of Bi-Courtney, said in a statement that 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/164/18 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 right under the law of Nigeria to deal with such person as a trespasser.’’

In a chat with PortNews on the development, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, General Manager, Public Relations, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), noted that the matter was an industrial dispute between the terminal management and staff and has no direct or indirect impact on the NCAA operations as airlines had started operations at other wings of the airport.

Also speaking, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), maintained that the matter was strictly an internal affair of Bi-Courtney and has nothing to do with FAAN and air operations.

According to her, airlines that could not land in the terminal had moved their operations to both local and international wings of the airport. She said that the development has brought more landing operations for FAAN to handle, meaning more revenue.

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