Nigeria: Bi-Courtney Decries Picketing By Workers At Lagos Airport

Bi-Courtney Aviation Service Limited (BASL), operator of terminal 2 of the Muritala Muhammed Airport (MMA2), Lagos has decried the picketing of its terminal by the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN).

The picketing which happened, yesterday, made several outbound passengers stranded while inbound passengers were trapped in the terminal over BASL’s sacking of 34 of its staff.

The union leaders, protesting the sack, however, barricaded the entrance to the terminal since 2am on Tuesday, 1st November, 2022 till evening.

This, however, made Arik Air, Max Air, Azman Air, Air Peace and Ibom Airlines whose passengers were affected to temporarily relocate to the General Aviation Terminal (GAT).

Though, the national president of ATSSAN, Comrade Illitrus Ahmadu, confirmed to LEADERSHIP that the picketing has been called off, but BASL, described the action of the union in disrupting service at MMA 2 as illegal action that set a bad precedent in Nigeria.

Speaking on the development, head of corporate communication, BASL, Oluwatosin Onalaja, said the company has the right to manage its business in the most prudent manner that it would not be intimidated by external forces for doing so.

“Contrary to laid down principles of industrial relations and in total violation of the laws of Nigeria, our Terminal was shut down at 2:30 a.m on 1st November, 2022 by Airport Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN}. There was no proper notice of this damaging behaviour.

“The union brought in members who are not employees of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) to prevent the employees of BASL from working.

ful action. Our relationship is with union members that are our employees and not external members.

is clearly an illegal action and continues to set a bad precedent in Nigeria.

” The alleged cause of this industrial action is our decision to lay off some of our staff who we consider unproductive. It is our inherent right to manage our business in the most prudent manner and we should not be intimidated by external forces as is being done in this case.

“The Unions are also claiming that we should apply the conditions of service which we signed in June, 2021 retrospectively. Again, this is contrary to established rules of industrial relations and the laws of Nigeria.

“On being made aware of a court order issued by the National Industrial Court on 31st October, 2022, the Unions disregarded the order and continues to lock up our premises and disturbing the operations of the Terminal in a clear violation of the court order. This is a recipe for anarchy. We remain very law-abiding citizens and use this medium to apologise to all our clients and stakeholders for the totally unacceptable behaviour of the Unions.”

However, an aviation expert, Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), asked the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), to caution protesting unions against denying passengers from accessing the terminal 2 of the Muritala Muhammed Airport (MMA2), Lagos.

Ojikutu, in a chat with LEADERSHIP, he said the NCAA has the absolute powers and authority on civil aviation security in the airports.

He advised unions to take griviances to offices of agencies or companies and not to terminal, thereby, disrupting flight services.

Ojikutu said, “Unions blocked the entrances to the MMA2 terminal refusing passengers from getting access into the terminal to catch their flights operated by airlines and not by the terminal operator.

“It is high time the lawlessness of the unions are curtailed by the responsible authorities especially the NCAA. The NCAA in particular has the absolute powers and authority on civil aviation security in the airports. If their are Civil Aviation Laws for disruptive passengers there must be similar laws within the Airport Operational Areas (AOA) for disruptive staff and unions.”

“My knowledge and experience in aviation security tells me always that civil aviation is always on the top lists of targets for attacks by the terrorists. What is happening around us now needs more vigilant attention than what is coming out now at the Lagos Airport. Let us urgently call the disruptive unions to order. Let them carry their grievances to the offices of their employer and not to the passengers terminal building,” he said.

However, airlines have asked passengers that expect flight disruption, saying the picketing will affect in and outbound flights.

According to Ibom Air, in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP, the BASL facility has been closed to both workers and passengers by the protesting union.

He said, “This is to bring to the attention of our esteemed passengers and the public, that our operating terminal out of Lagos, the Murtala Mohamed Airport 2, operated by Bicourtney Aviation Services Limited has been completely closed off to workers and passengers alike by the Labour Union, very early this morning.

“Efforts are currently being made to resolve the situation; however, please note that this action will greatly impact our flights scheduled in and out of Lagos today. We greatly regret the impact of this unexpected action on your day’s plans.”

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