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Union issues Bi-Courtney fresh ultimatum over sacked workers

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Plane on the runway for takeoff


• Laments unpaid benefits of Aero Contractors, Nigeria Airways’ ex-staffers

Aviation workers’ union has issued Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) a two-week fresh ultimatum to either reverse the sack of 26 workers or have the Murtala Muhammed Airport II (MMA2) shut down.

The workers, under the aegis of Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), again faulted the sack of the workers, allegedly for participating in unionism, and refusal of BASL to yield ground since the first shutdown threat was made.It will be recalled that ATSSSAN, and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), in May threatened to shut the airport in protest against alleged anti-labour activities of Bi-Courtney – the concessionaire and operator of the busy terminal.

Rising from its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja recently, ATSSSAN commended the intervention of the State Security Services (Airport Command), the Airport Police Command, the Military Commandant (MMIA Airport) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), for the roles they played in seeking an amicable resolution of the issue since May.

The union, however, condemned an alleged deliberate frustration of all efforts by the management of Bi-Courtney. “To this end, NEC resolved that if the management of Bi-Courtney does not recall the terminated staff and allow unfettered unionisation of willing staff of the company within two weeks, ATSSSAN shall embark on a serious disruption of operations at MMA2 until the management of BASL complies with its demands.” The council advised all domestic operators utilising facilities at MMA2 Lagos to make alternative arrangements to avert unscheduled disruption of operations at the terminal.

National President of the body, Ahmadu Ilitrus, added that NEC resolved not to tolerate a situation where airlines and other licensed air transport and allied aviation services providers doing business in the industry deny workers their constitutional rights to freely join unions of their choices in the aviation industry.

“NEC reminded airlines and other aviation businesses of their obligation in law to comply with the provisions of the extant labour laws, failing which the NEC mandated the leadership of ATSSSAN to use all resources within its means to defend the constitutional rights of all aviation workers.”NEC charged the Minister of Labour and Employment and his counterpart in Ministry of State for Aviation to intervene in this matter by calling the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of all airlines and allied aviation services providers to comply with the laws of the land, by allowing unions free access to organise willing aviation workers.

ATSSSAN also frowned at the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria’s (AMCON) efforts to frustrate the two-year old redundancy agreement signed between ATSSSAN and other unions on one hand, and the management of Aero Contractors, on the other hand. “While NEC empathises with Aero Contractors’ management, it posits that the refusal of the AMCON management in Aero to avail approval and the resources for the settlement of arrears of salaries and terminal benefits of staff members declared redundant on the directive of AMCON, is not only inhuman but a breach of the terms of the redundancy agreement.

“NEC calls on the Minister of Labour and Employment and his Aviation counterpart to call the AMCON management and the Receiver Manager of Aero to order to avoid any disruptions of operations at Aero Contractors Airlines.”Deputy General Secretary, Francis Akinjole, also bemoaned the failure of the Federal Government to settle the outstanding entitlements of ex-workers of Nigeria Airways, several years after the airline was liquidated.

Akinjole said the council appreciated the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari, who finally gave approval for the payment of N45 billion towards the settlement of the entitlements sometimes last year, yet condemned the nonpayment till date.

The union resolved that the issue of payment of the severance benefits of the workers must be resolved immediately in order to forestall brewing labour crisis that could affect, in the negative, the prospects of the recently unveiled ‘Nigeria Air’ by the Federal Government of Nigeria. “ATSSSAN NEC warned that if government does not pay Nigeria Airways workers their hard earned entitlements, it will not guarantee any place for the new airline in the industry.

“The NEC commiserates with the families of the over 960 Nigeria Airways workers who died in very avoidable health conditions while waiting for their entitlement and wish the souls of the departed workers a peaceful rest and the family they left behind the gratitude to carry on the struggle,” Akinjole said.


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