Unions across Nigeria have declared to hold protests today September 12 2022 in all airports across the country over the new “obnoxious” Civil Aviation Act (CAA) that prohibits trade union activities.
The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) which comprises many unions, signed a statement that directed members to,
“embark on peaceful rallies/public demonstrations at all airports in Nigeria to demand the expunging of obnoxious Essential Services clauses from the Bills/Acts of the aviation agencies.”
What are the protests about?
The newly signed CAA by President Muhammadu Buhari contains elements that were not discussed in public hearings organised by the House of Representatives, in which aviation workers are considered essential services.
The implication of this gives the Minister of Aviation the power to prohibit union activities, demonstrations, strikes and service disruptions of any kind within the agency. Disputes towards the agency will only be allowed to be resolved by the agency.
The General Secretary of NUATE, Comrade Ocheme Aba said that the issue of dictating union activities was not discussed before the Bills were passed and is another attempt to suppress and repress aviation workers who have rights to speak up on issues in their sector.
“For all intents and purposes, the above stated provisions represent an effort at repression and oppression” – Ocheme Aba, General Secretary of NUATE said.
Protests will be at all airports in the country in the hope to keep union activities in the aviation sector in Nigeria.
NUATE has reiterated that if the problem is not ameliorated within 14 days of the demonstrations then “our unions shall embark on total industrial action to press home our demands.”
The unions part of the protests include the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP), the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) and the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) at a joint conference at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA).
What does this mean for Nigerian aviation?
This comes at a bad time for Nigerian aviation as the country is recovering from the issue of trapped funds for foreign airlines, and only recently have Emirates airlines reinstated flights within Nigeria.
There is speculation that the protest will cancel or postpone all or most flights in Nigeria as aviation workers demonstrate to keep aviation unions in the sector.
This will no undoubtedly cause disruptions for flights in Nigeria and further disruptions if there is no agreement reached with unions over the new act.
More will be known after the demonstrations are carried out today.