Airline operators have criticised aviation unions for disrupting activities in the industry with protests.
Industry operators said the activities of the unions were hurting airline operations as well as their revenues and jobs.
The Chief Executive Officer, Centurion Aviation Security and Safety Consult, John Ojikutu, expressed displeasure over the demonstrations by the unions. He said it was high time the lawlessness of the unions was curtailed by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority. Ojikutu said if there were laws to regulate disruptive passengers, there should be similar laws for disruptive staff and unions.
The Assistant General Secretary, Aviation Round Table, Olumide Ohunayo, said such disruptions were acts of lawlessness.
“When you disrupt airlines services or passengers at the terminal where they are supposed to board their flights, and also block the road, thereby restricting traffic flow at the local and international airports that have passengers who are not the management of the companies you are having disagreements with, that is lawlessness,” he said. Ohunayo added, “You can make your grievances known to the organisation without hindrance. You do not put everybody to a standstill, especially if that organisation staff are not union members.”
Commenting on the picketing that took place at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Terminal Two on November 4, 2022, Ohunayo said, “I will also not exonerate the management of the MM2 because they did not handle the situation well. They didn’t even relate to the public when the issue came up.
“It took MMA2 almost eight hours after the picketing to get across to the public what was really happening. Even the airlines were trying to make alternate plans for their passengers. MMA2 did not support or make any plans available to the airlines or passengers to board their flights in alternate cases.
“They just left everybody to fight for their survival. So, I think the management of MMA2 owes those who were affected by that action, that is the non-union members, their clients and airline service providers an apology.”
The General Manager, Public Affairs Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Sam Adurogboye, said there were laws governing the operations at airports, but noted that workers had the right to unionism under labour law.
He said, “If you buy your air ticket, it is the responsibility of the airline to take you to your destination. You will only be taken to your destination if certain things are available and if the airline is able to operate.
“But if they do not operate, it is the responsibility of the airline to either refund the ticket or inform you not to come to the airport at all.
“So, if organisations do not pay the entitlement of their staff you cannot say the union should not fight for their colleague and in doing that it has to also be within the ambit of the law. If they go against the law, of course, the police are stationed at the airport to also step in. It becomes a police case if there is a violation.”