Aviation unions to shut MMA2 over sack of 20 members

Murtala Muhammed Airport II

Aviation workers’ unions may today shutdown the Murtala Muhammed Airport II (MMA2) terminal in Lagos, in protest of alleged anti-labour activities of Bi-Courtney Service Limited (BASL), the concessionaire and operator of the busy terminal.
 
The unions, under the aegis of Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), are miffed at BASL’s sack of 20 of its members for engaging in union’s activities.  
 
BASL, has however, described the threat as an act of lawlessness on the part of unions, saying the affected workers were those that have either attained the age of retirement or complacent in their duties.  
 
But should the unions make good the threat, local flight activities inbound and outbound of Lagos may be distrupted. At least six of the eight local airlines operate from MMA2 that has been adjudged the best terminal in the country.  
 
General Secretary of NUATE, Olayinka Abioye, said the sector had seen one-too-many cases of flagrant disregard for right of workers, and the latest is that more than 20 dedicated staff were sacked by the Bi-Courtney management, “simply for declaring membership to a trade union.”
 
Abioye said the workers are at liberty to participate in union activity and the unions in turn would see to it that they are protected.  
 
“It is even an offence to criminalise trade union membership. It is an offence by any employer to refuse to recognise registered trade unions. Our partners owe workers this obligation. Should anything happens tomorrow, kindly understand our plight,” he said.  
 
BASL, in a statement yesterday, said their attention had been drawn to the threat, even as they are taken aback by “further display of acts of lawlessness against our organisation.
   
“We will do everything within the laws of Nigeria to enforce our right to peaceful existence and to operate our business without any interference from meddlesome interlopers.
 
“Contrary to their allegation that our members of staff had their service terminated because they threatened to join a union, these members of staff who were relieved of their appointment are staff who had either attained retirement age or who were found not to be diligent in their duties.

We reserve the right to continue to improve the quality of our staff,” the statement read in part. 
 
The MMA2 operator said its face-off with the unions dated back to the beginning of its operations.
 
“When the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) was handed over to our company in accordance with the Concession Agreement executed between our company, the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), these two unions physically prevented us from exercising our constitutional and legal right of ownership of the terminal.
 
“Subsequent to this handover, the courts have confirmed that the terminal belongs to our company.
 
“It is interesting to note that the two unions, NUATE and ATSSSAN, actually challenged our ownership of the terminal in court in Appeal No. CA/A/141/M/09.

The case was decided in our favour in the Court of Appeal on the 16th day of October 2010. Their case was dismissed for lacking any merit whatsoever.’’

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