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NLC rejects classification of aviation as ‘essential service’, FAAN reforms

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has rejected the proposal to classify the aviation sector under “essential service.”

It also kicked against changing the ‘Authority’ in the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to ‘Administration’.

The union also said that the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was not about the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) only, but the 2009 collective bargaining agreement.

The President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, canvassed these positions after appearing before the Senator Smart Adeyemi-led Committee on Aviation, which is seeking to amend six bills in the aviation sector.

He said the NLC would not advise ASUU to call off the strike because government had not shown enough commitment to resolve the lingering dispute with ASUU on the 2009 Agreement.

Speaking on the Aviation Bills and the plot to remove authority from the name of FAAN, Wabba said, “We are here to shed more light on our position on the six bills before the Senate Committee on Aviation. The first item is about the provision in the law which tries to designate the aviation sector as an essential service.

“By our labour laws, which Nigeria is a signatory to, guarantees workers rights and core values. The sector cannot be designated as essential service because sectors that are designated as essential service are listed in the Nigerian labour law and the aviation sector was not part of it.

“All provisions relating to the issue of essential service into the six bills being considered for review especially section 29 of the civil aviation act should be expunged because it is actually in conflict with the existing provision of the labour law which is part of our international commitment to standards.

“The issue has been determined by the court that the aviation sector is not an essential service. I think the government is not aware of this, that is why it included it in the law.”

Wabba also spoke against interim boards in aviation agencies.

He said, “The provision of the interim boards in the bills of Aviation agencies, is not in tandem with global best practices because at no point should we envisage that the board of such organisations would not be constituted. We were told that the boards were not constituted in the last four years due to conflict of interest. The use of interim board should certainly not be there.”

Speaking further, the NLC President said the proposal to change the nomenclature in FAAN to administration was suspicious.

“We are also against the change of nomenclature of FAAN from authority to administration. Most jurisdictions in the aviation sector all over the world retain authorities for agencies in their aviation sector as we have it in the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, and other African countries.

“Removing authority from FAAN is not only suspicious but mischievous. An attempt to remove authority from FAAN can only suggest an attempt to remove the management of FAAN from possibly government control and ownership by the people. It would enable the promoters of concessions to consummate their plans. It will take many Nigerians out of the labour market.”

Wabba advised the government to show more commitment in resolving the dispute with ASUU on the 2009 Agreement.

He said, “A lot of issues are contained in the agreement which has not been implemented. The process of dialogue is ongoing. We have tried to give our own side of how the issue could be resolved include giving inputs and writing of letters and we would continue to do that.

“The sooner it is resolved, the better for all of us because an idle mind certainly is a devil’s workshop. Clearly speaking, I think it should be a priority if the issues are resolved so that we could get our wards back to schools.”

Asked if NLC would advise ASUU to resume while negotiations continue, Wabba said, “that is not how negotiations are done. If before the action commences, we were able to reach a negotiation, then we would have resolved the issues.

“We are already on the action before those issues arose. I don’t think that is the best way to go. The government should show enough commitment to resolve the issue once and for all.”

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