A protest staged by members of the Air Transport Services Staff Association of Nigeria forced many airlines to suspend flights at Lagos Airport, leaving many passengers stranded. The union was protesting the sacking of more than 30 members by the private terminal’s operator over the weekend.
Union barricades terminal
Passengers flying through the Murtala Muhammed Airport Two (MMA2) terminal at Lagos airport found the entrances to the terminal blocked in the early morning hours of November 1st. This was done by the Air Transport Services Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) workers who were protesting the sacking of 34 of its members by the operators of the airport terminal, the B-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL).
The union termed the termination of the employees as “unprovoked” and mentioned in their notice of strike that those affected by the disengagement include the ATSSSAN Branch Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and Women Leader.
According to Vanguard, the union blocked the entry at 02:00 in the morning to protest the sacking, which they feel was done without due process.
The ATSSSAN members were demanding “the payment of terminal benefits to staff members who exited the company’s service lawfully in line with the signed Conditions of Service.” According to Vanguard, several meetings with BASL in the past failed to resolve the issues.
ATSSSAN Principal Deputy General Secretary, Frances Akinjole issued a statement saying,
“In light of the above. ATSSSAN has declared industrial action against BASL and calls on all branches nationwide, as well as all professional association affiliated to ATSSSAN to withdraw services to all airlines operating into and out of the MMA2 Lagos immediately without fall.”
Airlines and passengers affected
The protest came as an unpleasant surprise for passengers scheduled to fly out of the terminal. An Abuja-bound passenger stated,
“Currently, I cannot access the terminal, already my flight time has passed. Some people are not allowing anyone in and this is sad. I fear I will miss my flight and also my meeting in Abuja.”
Affected airlines also sent out notices of flight disruptions, with Ibom Air stating that while efforts were being made to resolve the situation, passengers should expect the carrier’s flights in and out of the airport to be severely impacted. Azman Air Services Limited also issued a similar notice.
Many from the sector have criticized the union’s move saying that it was unreasonable to protest like this at a time when the aviation sector continues to struggle.
But the union says they were left with no other choice as there was no indication during the discussions that the negotiations had broken down completely. The termination of the workers came as a complete surprise, resulting in the union blocking the terminal.
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Source: Vanguard, Channels TV
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Christophe Penninck
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