Aviation Workers Protest At Lagos Airport, Delaying Hundreds Of Air Travelers

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Hundreds of passengers at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos State trekked to various terminals to board their flights on Monday following a warning strike by aviation workers.

The workers protested the non-implementation of conditions of service and the planned demolition of agencies’ offices in Lagos.

As early as 4:00am, the four unions blocked the MMIA access roads, stopping vehicular movements along the busy airport road, Daily Trust reports.

Although flights were not grounded, the disruption caused delay for the airlines and there were indications that many flights would be cancelled as airlines moved to cover up for the lost hours.

Passengers billed to travel through the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) and the MMA2 were trapped in the gridlock with some reaching the airport by commercial motorcycles and trekking to their departure terminals.

It was learnt that airlines delayed flights at the MMA2 for over three hours as the situation normalised after about seven hours when the unions removed the barricades at the airport road.

Mr. Uche Francis, travelling to Asaba from Lagos via GAT said he trekked from Ikeja Under-Bridge to the airport.

“My flight was billed for 10am but I couldn’t get to the airport on time but luckily the flight was delayed and our flight was called around 12 noon,” he said.

Another passenger said he boarded a motorcycle for N1,500 from Ikeja Under-Bridge to the airport.

A spokesperson with Dana Airlines, Kingsley Ezenwa said, “The strike created unnecessary delay. Some flights definitely would be cancelled when we are not able to make up for the delay, especially at some of the sunset airports. We are still reviewing it but there would be some delays and cancellations.”

Chief Operating Officer of Ibom Airlines, Mr. George Uriesi said all their flights operated on schedule despite the strike.

The unions comprising the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN); the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) and the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) demanded halt of the planned demolition of aviation agencies’ headquarters in Lagos, implementation of conditions of service.

The union members sang solidarity songs and carried placards with inscriptions such as: “FAAN headquarters in Lagos not for sale”, “Release agencies’ conditions of service”, among others. By 12 noon, they reopened a section of the road as they retreated to reconvene Tuesday. The protest also went on at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja.

President of ATSSAN, Comrade Illitrus Ahmadu said they gave the government the benefit of negotiation before the strike was declared.

He explained that the unions decided to allow flights to take off and land because the action was a warning strike.

Ahmadu said, “We have said it is not right to wake up one day and demolish these buildings without adequate planning on how to relocate these workers with their allowances, transfer allowances, as the case may be paid.”

A representative of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Alhaji Ibrahim Walamo said the NLC is part of the struggle, noting that an injury to one is an injury to all.

Meanwhile, the ministry of aviation has called on the striking unions to immediately call-off their warning strike as the majority of their concerns are being addressed.

The ministry also warned that actions by the unions that would cause crises would be punished.

In a statement by the ministry spokesman, Odutayo Oluseyi, the ministry stated: “The strike is unnecessary as it will increase the hardship on our citizens, affect flight schedules, lead to economic losses and negatively impact on our rating globally.”

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