Stay Away From The Aviation Industry, FAAN MD Tells NLC
The Managing Director/Chief Executive of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Capt. Hamisu Rabiu Yadudu has called on the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to abstain from picketing and other activities that obstruct operations in the aviation sector.
Speaking during a chart with aviation journalists last Friday, Yadudu said the NLC needed to stay away from the industry because of its sensitive nature and the fact that it falls under essential services.
Reacting to the recent disruption of flights to Owerri due to an issue that the union had with Imo State Government, Yadudu said it was wrong for innocent air travelers who already had flight tickets to be denied the opportunity to travel because of NLC’s activities.
“It is wrong for you to say because you asked for something and did not get what you asked for, somebody else who already has something should lose it,” he said, adding that “it is very disappointing, especially given the fact that the NLC acted in clear disregard with impunity. They wrote to us that their people in aviation should come and picket the Lagos airport and they should not allow flights to go to Owerri Airport because their members were harassed by the Imo State Government. They deliberately planned that action just to massage their ego. It has nothing to do with staff, workers or even the aviation industry and Nigeria. For any organization that is licensed by the government to behave in personal interest and not national interest, is very unfortunate. It has nothing to do with labours or workers in Nigeria.”
Yadudu further said: “In fact, they undermined aviation and other workers because people lost their flights. I pray no one dies. The more you distress aviation, the more you are creating vulnerability for uncertainty. What happened that day is very regrettable and just a sign of ego massage and I think that has no place in aviation.
Second reason, it is illegal. The Nigeria Civil Aviation Act has put aviation as an essential service and in essential services, there is no room for picketing or blocking of operations because all Nigerians need it. The NLC themselves, I don’t think they are up to 200 million and Nigeria has a population of 200 million. So, they should not come and massage their ego at the airport where it is already prohibited by law. They created an illegality and undermined the nation. The act was all over the world and I think it is very bad and unacceptable. We are not going to take it from them. In fact when we saw it, I have spent the last three days at FAAN coordinating it and we have written a strongly worded letter to the Minister of Aviation, calling on the government to directly protect aviation from NLC and similar actions. There are so many other avenues in Nigeria where you can seek redress. This is not the 1970s. Nigeria has evolved. Aviation has evolved. Everything has evolved and NLC needs to evolve in their processes and their ways and means of getting what they want.
I think picketing needs to evolve. Nobody pickets in modern society. Anybody or organization that feels the only way they can get what they need is by making sure it is to picket organizations, personally, we will fight it. I am not talking about FAAN. I am talking about aviation generally. I am talking about everyone and other organizations in the sector.
We have written to the minister, telling them the government needs to protect aviation from the action of the NLC. Airports are not an avenue for anybody to come and exercise violent behaviour or mob action. We will not take it.
In conclusion, NLC should stay away from aviation. I didn’t say stay away from FAAN, but from the airport generally. As long as they keep on picketing, they should stay away. We need stakeholders’ confidence. If the industry is killed through lack of confidence, nobody will come in. It is Nigeria that will lose. So, NLC should stay away from aviation; airlines, catering services, ground handling, agencies. We don’t need a negative influence on our staff. The whole world doesn’t need mob action.
I want to commend all our aviation unions because none of them participated in this. They understand that this is where they earn their livelihood. We have unions in aviation and the Directorate of Human Resources and several other places that you can go to vent your anger and seek for redress.
The NCAA has a consumer protection department and the Federal Government has more than three agencies that can assist you to protect the interest of workers and address labour disputes. You can even go to the National assembly.”