Labour To Picket Airlines Over Refusal To Unionize Workers

Labour To Picket Airlines Over Refusal To Unionize Workers

Aviation labour body, the National Union of Air Transport Employee (NUATE) today disclosed that it will soon picket offices of airlines operating in the country that have refuse to allow their staff to join trade unions of their choice.

NUATE said it is against labour law for some airlines to make employment conditioned upon not joining a trade union while those who threaten workers with sack if they join the unions are doing great violence to Nigerian laws.

Speaking at the ‘National Campaign for the Unionization of Private Domestic Airlines in Nigeria’ at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos today, National President of NUATE, Ben Konye Nnabue told the workers that the union has received the backing of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) based in London in carrying out their actions.

He said at the last global labour unions conference held in Singapore, it was observed that a lot of organizations are not unionized hence the mandate to ensure that slave labour is eliminated on the African continent.

Ben said: “In Nigeria we have come to term with the reality that majority of our domestic airlines don’t want their workers to join unions while some have allowed their staff to unionized. Others at the point of entrance warned their staff against joining any trade union of their choice.”

“We have been on this for the past five years. We have reported to the Ministers of labour and that of aviation. All of them have been promising us that something will be done but you can’t be following up a project for 5 years, it means that they want to do anything.”

According to the NUATE National President “At the last meeting we had at the ITF, fortunately I am the Chairman of the ITF branch in Nigeria, the ITF is in full support of our action today, they also sent their regional Secretary, Comrade Itsafianu to come and monitor the process and also comrade Dayo was sent from London to come see what we are doing about it. That shows how serious the global body views the decisions of our airlines not to allow their workers to join the trade unions.”

He warned that “this is the last olive branch we intend to extend to them, the next time we will have to use what the laws allow us to do, we will picket them, but we have to exhaust all the channel of dialogue first then we are at liberty to use the last resort which is to picket those organizations.”

Also speaking, NUATE General Secretary, Comrade Ocheme Aba affirmed that it will be in the good interest of airlines and organizations in the aviation sector to allow their workers to join the labour unions affirming that no airline that allowed their staff to join trade unions have gone under.

Aba told journalists that “it is on record that in Nigeria apart from Nigeria Always that was deliberately murdered by the Obasanjo regime, there is no unionized airline that has gone under. All the airlines that have gone under in the country under were not unionized.”

He explained that “an airline worker that is unionized, that has the backing of the union don’t cut corners, they don’t take orders from the owners to cut corners, they work according to the rules because if you give them a query, they will answer the query and if the company will carry out any action there is usually fair hearing so they are protected.”

Those airlines that folded up are the ones that didn’t have any organized structure, no organized maintenance structure, no workforce structure, no director of administration, everything is one person in one office and that is why many of these people do not want unions because they want to do things as they like and we must also understand that a worker who does not have a negotiated terms of employment is just a paid slave.”

Members of the union carried placards bearing inscription such as ‘To belong to a trade union is a right, no negotiation’, ‘the worker need trade union protection’, ‘workers rights are fundamental human right’, ‘a worker without negotiated terms of employment is but a slave’ and ‘every company must recognize the union. It’s the law’.

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Albinus Chiedu

Albinus Chiedu is a journalist, aviation media consultant, events management professional, and author. He has practiced journalism since 2000.

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