Daily Trust

Drama as unions ‘block’ Avi­a­tion min­is­ter from hold­ing town hall meeting

- From Ab­dul­la­teef Aliyu, La­gos Business · Nigeria News · Politics · Transportation · Industries · Murtala Mohammed · Lagos · Nigeria · National Union · Abuja · Kano State · Port Harcourt · Beijing · Murtala Muhammed International Airport · Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) · Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria · United KingdoMinistry of Aviation · Media Trust · China Civil Engineering Construction · China Railway Group

There was a mild drama at the Mur­tala Muhammed In­ter­na­tional Air­port (MMIA), La­gos, yes­ter­day when avi­a­tion unions shut down the Fed­eral Air­ports Author­ity of Nige­ria (FAAN) in La­gos over is­sues of work­ers' wel­fare.

The unions in­cluded the Na­tional Union of Air Trans­port Em­ploy­ees (NUATE), Air Trans­port Se­nior Staff As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (ATSSSAN), As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­rian Avi­a­tion Pro­fes­sion­als (ANAP) and the Nige­rian Union of Pen­sion­ers (NUP).

It was gath­ered that the shut­down was to frus­trate the planned meeting of the Min­is­ter of Avi­a­tion, Sen­a­tor Hadi Sirika, who was sched­uled to hold a town hall meeting with the work­ers yes­ter­day.

Daily Trust re­ports that as early as 9 am, the unions had al­ready mo­bilised for the one-day strike at FAAN to es­ca­late their de­mand for pay­ment of salary ar­rears and other en­ti­tle­ments.

To pre­vent the Min­is­ter from hold­ing the town hall meeting at the Free­dom Square within the FAAN premises, the unions blocked the en­trance to the venue with one of their ve­hi­cles although tents had al­ready been mounted in prepa­ra­tion for the meeting.

NUATE Pres­i­dent, Com­rade Ben Nnabue, said, “The Min­is­ter can­not come and talk to our work­ers di­rectly with­out us more so we are on strike to­day (Thurs­day).”

But speak­ing with Daily Trust, Di­rec­tor, Pub­lic Af­fairs in the Min­istry of Avi­a­tion, James Odaudu, said the Min­is­ter was not barred from hold­ing the meeting as the Min­is­ter did not show up there in the first place.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the meeting was sup­posed to be with the man­age­ment and staff of FAAN.

He also stated that the Min­is­ter was not at war with the unions whose mem­bers are his em­ploy­ees, adding that what­ever steps he takes is in their in­ter­est.

Daily Trust re­ports that the protest­ing work­ers sang sol­i­dar­ity songs and car­ried plac­ards with in­scrip­tions such as: “FAAN Mgt should stop play­ing pol­i­tics with our CoS,” “FAAN work­ers need bet­ter mo­ti­va­tion,” and “Our work­ers’ morale is low and poses dan­ger to avi­a­tion safety,” among oth­ers.

Prior to this, there has been lin­ger­ing is­sues between the

Min­is­ter and the work­ers’ unions fol­low­ing the planned con­ces­sion of four ma­jor air­ports in La­gos, Abuja, Kano, and Port Har­court.

While the FG in­sisted on the con­ces­sion, the work­ers re­jected it, say­ing it was not in the best in­ter­est of the coun­try.

Gen­eral Sec­re­tary of NUATE, Com­rade Ocheme Aba, said that the air­ports have al­ready been con­ces­sioned to the China Civil En­gi­neer­ing Con­struc­tion Cor­po­ra­tion (CCECC).

He said, “CCECC and FAAN al­ready have an ar­range­ment of shar­ing the pro­ceeds from the ter­mi­nals. If you now con­ces­sion th­ese ter­mi­nals to another com­pany, who will pay the 60 per­cent of the pro­ceeds on th­ese ter­mi­nals?”

Prior to yes­ter­day’s botched town hall meeting, the unions had is­sued a seven-day ul­ti­ma­tum to the FAAN's man­age­ment over salary ar­rears.

The unions also de­manded im­me­di­ate pay­ment of out­stand­ing salaries, full pay­ment of salaries and pen­sions sub­se­quently; im­me­di­ate re­lease of Con­di­tions of Ser­vice (CoS) and im­me­di­ate im­ple­men­ta­tion of the new na­tional min­i­mum wage.

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