Aviation Unions, today, embarked on a protest over some clauses they claimed to be repressive and smuggled into the Civil Aviation Act recently passed by the National Assembly, stalling activities at some Airports.
According to the unions, the said clauses in the new Aviation Act is a ploy to deny them of their rights of association and expression.
The unions, National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), and Nigerian Association of Aviation Professionals (ANAP) expressed in strong terms, their displeasure at some provisions of the bill.
The unions said that the clause in the bill states which that they cannot embark on strike actions regardless of the situation, and their classification as essential personnel is in variance with the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention.
They pointed out that only Air Traffic Control services qualify as essential, because of their advisory function to aircraft in flight.
The unions further argued that the provision in the bill, which gives the Minister of Aviation overriding powers to direct affairs on issues affecting aviation unions is an usurpation of the duties of the Ministry of Labour.
The CIVIL AVIATION (REPEAL AND RE-ENACTMENT) ACT 2006 section 67 (1) and (2) on page 40 reads:
“67. (1) All services which facilitate and maintain the smooth, orderly and safe take off, flight and handling of aircrafts and the, disembarkation and evacuation of passengers and cargo respectively in all aerodromes in Nigeria are hereby designated as essential services pursuant to the provisions of section 11 (I) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“(2) The Minister may by regulations prohibit all or such class or classes of workers, officers and other employees of persons whether corporate or natural, engaged in the provision of the services specified in subsection (1) of this section from taking part in a strike or other industrial action.
“(3) In this section, “strike” means the cessation of work by a body of persons employed, acting in combination or a concerted refusal or a refusal under a common understanding of persons employed to continue to work for an employer in consequence of a dispute, done as a means of compelling their employer, or the Government of the Federation of Nigeria or any part thereof, or to aid other workers in compelling their employer or any persons or body of persons employed, to accept or not to accept terms of employment and physical conditions of work or any government economic policy or pricing of any essential product; and in this definition – (a) “cessation of work” includes working at less than usual speed or with less than usual efficiency without reasonable operational justification; and (b) “refusal to continue to work” includes a refusal to work at usual speed or with usual efficiency”.
According to them, it is a plan by those who smuggled the clauses into the bill to obliterate aviation unions.
The unions’ officials and members marched around the Lagos domestic airport terminal, carrying placards with different inscriptions and chanting solidarity songs, disrupting the free flow of vehicular movement around the Lagos domestic and international airports.
JournalNG gathered that many flight operations were also disrupted as Air Traffic Controllers suspended operations, which affected the landing and taking off of flights.
As a result, passengers were stranded as they struggled to get the necessary information, and flight directives in Abuja, Lagos and Kano Airports.
Offices of aviation agencies’ such as FAAN, NAMA and NCAA in Lagos were also locked to deny staffers access.
The unions have given the concerned authorities 14 days to remove the ‘regressive’ clauses or aviation workers will embark on a full blown strike and shut down the industry.