Nigerian Minister of Aviation, hadi sirikaon Wednesday, he said the government will no longer tolerate strikes and riots at all the country’s airports because it is against the law of the land.
The minister also pledged to enforce the section of the Civil Aviation Law (2022), which prohibited employees from taking strike action that would disrupt flight operations in the future.
Mr. Sirika made this known while addressing the House of Representatives correspondents at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Wednesday.
“First, we apologize to our many passengers at this difficult time. Second, this will not happen in the future by the grace of God. And the reason is simple, aviation is an essential service, the law has been approved by the president, so strikes and riots around our airports are prohibited by the laws of the country”, said the minister.
“We will make sure that no one interrupts any essential service, no matter how aggrieved,” he added.
The minister explained that since the civil aviation law has been endorsed by President Muhammadu Buhari and approved by the National Assembly, future strikes will be dealt with in accordance with the law.
In the early hours of Monday, aggrieved workers at the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) declared a warning strike over low wages that disrupted flight operations at both the local and international wings of Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos.
The development grounded several arrival and departure flight schedules with passengers lamenting that there was no prior communication informing them of the disruption.
At Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, PREMIUM TIMES reported that foreign airlines in the morning schedule were hit hard, with most diverting flights to neighboring countries or returning passengers to other countries.
Prior to Monday, the airport workers’ unions had issued an indefinite strike notice to NAHCO management requesting, among other things, a 100 percent increase in wages.
However, about 14 hours after many passengers’ itineraries were disrupted, the workers called off the strike, NAHCO said in a statement.
“NAHCO Aviance workers have canceled the industrial action that they undertook at dawn on Monday, January 23. The action lasted approximately 14 hours,” the company said in a statement posted on its official Twitter page.
On Wednesday, the aviation minister described the aviation sector as an essential service, adding that striking workers could use other, less disruptive channels to present their grievances.
“We will make sure that no one interrupts any essential service, no matter how aggrieved. There are other channels to channel problems when they arise, but they are not allowed to go on strike because aviation is an essential service and now it is by law,” he said.
“I’ll give you an example: there was an airline that had to return to base because it couldn’t land. Imagine if there was a patient on that plane. Imagine someone dealing with a very serious matter, unfinished business or business deal, or a student trying to catch up on an exam and then, because of someone who is wronged, someone else will die.”
Sirika said the government will no longer allow such incidents to happen again in the nation’s sensitive aviation sector.
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“…Review the Civil Aeronautics Law, it was approved and it will be carried out soon, in fact now, as of today we are not going to allow that,” said the minister.
“Our ears are always open, the government is open to hearing any complaint and there are procedures to deal with these types of complaints. They should please give up on this. That’s wrong. It’s inhumane. It’s not allowed. It is not allowed and will not be allowed any more”.