Hundreds of passengers were stranded on Thursday as the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), picketed the Murtala Muhammed Airport terminal 2 operated by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited.
The unions are protesting the alleged disengagement of 20 of their members by BASL.
NewsGazette gathered that the union members arrived at the terminal as early as 5.30am and blocked both the entry and exit gates to the terminal.
The unionists, who chanted various solidarity songs, accused the BASL management of violating extant labour laws by not recognising the unions and preventing staff from joining unions in the sector.
The unions who defied the heavy presence of policemen prevented passengers going to catch their early morning flights, and also 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, which spilled over to some parts of Ikeja and the Agege Motor Road.
Airlines affected by the action include Arik Air, Med-View Airline, Azman Air, Max Air, Dana Air and Aero Contractors, which operate flights from the terminal.
The general secretary of ATSSSAN, Mr. Frances Akinjole, said in an interview that the unions were forced to carry out the action following the refusal by BASL to accede to their demands.
“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,” he said.
But the spokesman for BASL, 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.
“Pursuant to this order, members of 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.
With NAN report