Hundreds of passengers are reportedly stranded at the domestic terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2(MMA2) on Wednesday, as aviation unions carried out their shutdown threat over the sack of workers by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited.
The unions involved in the shutdown are Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE).
They disregarded a Federal High Court order granted Tuesday restraining them from disrupting the operations of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA2).
The court granted the order in the suit filed by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operators of MMA2.
The unions had given notice that they would disrupt operations at MMA2 from today over the disengagement of 20 workers of BASL who they said were disengaged for their alleged attempt to join them, but who the company said had attained retirement age or were found not to be diligent in their duties.
As early as 6am, on Wednesday, the union members who defied the rains and an “alleged court order” restraining them from embarking on the protest, barricaded the entrance to the MMA2.
The unionists, who chanted various solidarity songs, accused BASL management of violating extant labour laws by not recognising the unions and preventing staff from joining unions in the sector.
They prevented passengers going to catch their early morning flights, airline officials and people with businesses inside the terminal from gaining access to the premises.
The protest also caused heavy vehicular traffic around the airport environment, Ikeja and the Agege Motor Road.
Airlines affected by the action included Arik Air, Medview Airline, Azman Air, Max Air, Dana Air and Aero Contractors who operate flights from the terminal.
We sincerely apologize for any inconveniences caused by the strike action embarked upon by Aviation Unions at MMA2. We will provide flight updates soon. Thank you for understanding
— Dana Airlines Ltd. (@DanaAir) October 10, 2018
There was heavy presence of security operatives including the Police and officers of the Nigeria Air Force during the protest.
Mr Frances Akinjole, General Secretary, ATSSSAN, told NAN that the unions were compelled to carry out the action following the refusal of the BASL management to accede to their demands.
Akinjole said:”This issue started since May when these workers were laid off for indicating interest to belong to unions.
“We met the management asking them to reinstate these workers and recognise their rights to join unions but they refused.
The regulator of the industry, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as well as aviation security agencies have intervened in series of meetings but BASL management has refused to do the needful to avert this crisis. ”
Akinjole also denied knowledge of any court order restraining the unions from carrying out the action, stressing that what the unions were doing was had legal backings.
Also, Mr Olayinka Abioye, General Secretary, NUATE, said the unions had issued the notice of strike to the public to afford travelers the opportunity of making alternative traveling arrangements.
Abioye urged the union members to remain calm and refuse any form of provocation by security agencies deployed to quell the protest.
However, Bi-Courtney in a statement issued by its spokesman, Mr Steve Omolale, said 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/16412/18 has granted an order restraining the unions from carrying out their threats of disrupting the activities of the terminal.
“Pursuit to this order, members if the unions found in the premises of MMA2 would be liable to trespass. We reserve our right under the law of Nigeria to deal with such person as a trespasser,” he said.