The Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) has accused the management of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operator of Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, of walking out of a meeting called by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to address its impasse with the unions.
This is as the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) has joined the ranks of unions planning to picket the terminal operator in the next one week, after the expiration of the 15-day ultimatum issued it by ATSSSAN.
The unions had accused the management of Bi-Courtney of “unjustifiably” sacking 26 workers who expressed intent to join any of the industry unions of their choice.
Ahmadu Ilitrus, president of ATSSSAN, in an interview with BusinessDay in Lagos, alleged that the management of BASL also demanded for handing over of the controversial General Aviation Terminal (GAT) at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos to it before it could recall the 26 staff disengaged for unionism.
Apart from this, Ilitrus explained that the management also requested that the union should impress it on the government to allow for commencement of regional flight operations from its terminal as purportedly spelt out in its contractual agreement with the government.
He added that in the cause of the meeting, the management further accused NCAA of bias, declaring that there was no going back on its planned picketing of the terminal operator once the ultimatum expired unless the management rescinded its decision.
According to Ilitrus, apart from the unions, which were represented, security agencies in the industry were also involved in the meeting, stressing that the unions had tried all the available options to ensured that the disengaged workers were recalled all to no avail.
He said: “The ultimatum to Bi-Courtney became necessary after the management walked out of the meeting called by NCAA in conjunction with all the security agencies at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.
“Bi-Courtney representatives told the meeting that it will not return the terminated staff until the unions and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria’s (FAAN) management surrenders GAT to it and allows it to commence international flights operations at MMA2.
“When they were cautioned about the security implication of their stand on the issue, they accused the meeting of bias and staged a walk out. It is equally important to state that the second meetings that held before the walkout were the at the instance of NCAA.”
When contacted, Steve Ajulo, spokesman of BASL, said he had no comment on the issue, saying he was not privy to outcome of any meeting between his management in one hand and unions and NCAA on the other hand.
However, NAAPE has joined the ranks of unions planning service disruption at the terminal any moment from now.
NAAPE in a letter with the reference number Ref: NS/GS/NAAPE/Vol.53/1/2018, dated August 31, 2018 and addressed to the Managing Director of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited and made available to Sahara Reporters, said it would be compelled to join forces with the others in order to make the picketing effective.
The letter, which was signed by general secretary of the association, Ocheme Aba, was also copied the director-general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Military Airport Commandant, Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Airport Command, Director, Department of State Security (DSS), Lagos Airport Command and Chairman of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) among others.
The union advised the management of Bi-Courtney to meet with the genuine and legitimate demands of the unions without further delay.
The petitioned warned that if the management failed to comply with the directive of the two unions; National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), it would be compelled to join in solidarity.
The petition read in part: “Should you fail to heed our advice, we shall not hesitate to show solidarity with our fellow comrades and mobilise all pilots and AMEs in full support of whatever actions ATSSSAN and NUATE may wish to take as your repressive and tenuous action on the matter are utterly not condonable.”