The National Union of Air Transport Employees and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria stopped inbound and outgoing aircraft operations on Monday due to a strike, for which the Federal Government issued an apology to passengers on Wednesday.
Additionally, it threatened to execute the Civil Aviation Act’s provision (2022) banning future employee strikes that would interfere with flights.
First, in this trying time, we sincerely apologize to our thronging travelers. Since aviation is a necessary service, there are other means to address problems when they arise, but strikes are not tolerated, Hadi Sirika, the minister of aviation, told reporters as he left the Council Chambers on Wednesday.
Local and international flights were halted on Monday for a number of hours as staff members of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company went on warning strike over low pay.
The NAHCO management had already received a five-day strike notice from the disgruntled workers.
In addition to other things, they asked for a 100% wage increase as a result of the sector’s overall upward review of ground handling adjustments.
Nevertheless, the employees ended their workday at midnight on Monday, leaving hundreds of passengers and airlines without a plan.
All foreign carriers with morning flights at Lagos’ Murtala Muhammed International Airport were disrupted.
RwandAir, Qatar Airlines, and Royal Air Maroc are a few of them; some of them reroute flights to nearby nations or send passengers back to their starting point.
However, after a 15-hour wait, carriers like EgyptAir, Asky, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Ethiopia Airlines, and Air Peace started accepting international passenger check-in around 3 o’clock.
At the Presidential Villa, Sirika answered questions from State House Correspondents and referred to the strike as “wrong, inhumane, and against the law.”
To stop such interruptions, he committed to execute the pertinent provisions of the Civil Aviation Act 2022.
The law, in accordance with Sirika, forbids large-scale riots and strikes in the aviation industry.
The general public who travel has a lot to gain from this. We want to start by apologizing to our crowded travelers for this difficult time.
Secondly, by God’s grace, this will not occur in the future. And the explanation is straightforward: flying is a necessary service. Mr. President has given his approval to the Act, making it illegal for people to strike or riot near our airports.
We will handle it in accordance with the law now that the Act is in existence, has received the President’s assent, and has been approved by the National Assembly, he said.
The minister claimed that since aviation was a necessary service, the striking employees had alternative, less disruptive ways to express their complaints.
He declared, We will make sure that no crucial service is interrupted by anyone, no matter how irate. There are various ways to address problems when they come up, but they are not allowed to strike because aviation is a necessary service under current law.
I’ll use an airline as an example, which had to return to its base because it was unable to land. Imagine if a patient was traveling on that plane. Imagine someone attending to a highly important topic, matter, or business, or a student attempting to catch up on a test, and then some other person dies because of someone who is resentful.
Government will no longer allow that. So it’s in the law of the land, check the Civil Aviation Act, it’s been assented to and it’s going to take place soon, in fact now, from today we will not allow that.
The government is always willing to listen to complaints, and there are established processes for handling these kinds of complaints. Please ask them to stop doing this. It is untrue. It is deplorable. It is prohibited. It is not allowed, and it won’t be allowed any longer.
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