Minimum wage: Aviation sector unions disrupt flight operations in Lagos

Domestic airlines record 8,173 flight delays in 3 months
United Bank for Africa

Some members of aviation unions and the United Labour Congress on Friday disrupted flight operations for over four hours at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.

Our correspondent reports that the unions who are affiliates of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) stormed the airport in their numbers and prevented passengers from checking in for flights.

NLC called a seven-day warning strike from Thursday over demands for the implementation of a new national minimum wage.

Unions in the aviation sector are Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, (ATSSAN), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) and the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP).

The airlines affected by the action were Air Peace and Arik Air, which led to confrontations between the airline officials and the unionists.

Reacting to the development, Mr Chris Iwarah, the Corporate Communications Manager, Air Peace, described the unions’ action as uncalled for because the airline’s workers did not belong to any labour organisation.

Iwarah said that all the airline’s morning flight schedules were affected by the restriction of passenger access to GAT by the unions.

”Early this morning some members of the aviation unions barricaded our terminal and prevented our guests from flying in protest of the implementation of the national minimum wage.

“This is very unfortunate because they have no right to force our workers to join unions or join their agitations for increased pay.

“We don’t know how your increased pay will benefit us as a people in Air Peace. So, going to stop our operation is simply an act of provocation and they have no such rights,” he said.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Lagos Airport Police Command, DSP Joseph Alabi, told our correspondent that security operatives were alerted of the situation and they quickly restored order.

“Our men are on ground and everywhere is calm. The unions are not preventing people from boarding and the airlines are carrying out their operations without any hindrance,” Alabi said.

For the second day running, the unions in compliance with the labour directive, barricaded the offices of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and Nigerian Airspace Management Agency.

Also shut down were the headquarters of the Accident Investigation Bureau and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.

The unions, in a joint statement, made available to our correspondent, stressed that the general strike in the sector would begin on Oct. 2 due to the ongoing NUATE delegates conference in Asaba.

The statement was signed by Mr Mohammed Safiyanu and Mr Olayinka Abioye, President and General Secretary, NUATE and Mr Illitrus Ahmadu and Mr Frances Akinjole, President and General Secretary, ATSSAN.

Other signatories were Mr Abednego Galadima and Mr Ocheme Aba, President and General Secretary respectively of NAAPE, and Mr Yahaya Gusau and Mr Rasaq Saidu , President and General Secretary respectively of ANAP.