Angry workers at the Muritala Muhammed airport have shutdown the airport over their unpaid salaries. Air travellers who arrived the domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos to catch their flights on Wednesday, October 10, met locked doors and gates and were stranded.
The section of the airport which was shutdown, is operated by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited. The unions embarked on the protest alleging BASL’s sacking of 20 employees who indicated interest to unionise.
The protesting unions are 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).
As early as 6am, the union members, who defied early morning downpour, barricaded the entrance to the MMA2.
Their action came in spite of a court order restraining them from embarking on the protest.
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, 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 spiraled to some parts of Ikeja and the Agege Motor Road.
Airlines affected by the action include Arik Air, Medview Airline, Azman Air, Max Air, Dana Air and Aero Contractors, which operate flights from the terminal.
There was heavy presence of security operatives including the Police and officers of the Nigeria Air Force in the area 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 denied knowledge of any court order restraining the unions from carrying out the action, stressing that what they were doing 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.
The stranded passengers at the airport, lamented their plight.