The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) tuesday grounded the operations of Dana Air Limited over the managementâ€™s refusal to allow technical personnel, including engineers and pilots, to join unions.
The unions picketed the airlineâ€™s operations at the Murtala Muhammed Airport domestic terminal (MMA2), preventing any of its flights from taking off and leaving many passengers stranded with a huge loss of revenue to the airline.
Angry passengers who could not be airlifted by the airline instead of expressing their anger against Dana Air management, told THISDAY that they were angry with the unions â€œbecause this is the way Nigerians frustrate investors who commit their funds in businesses in Nigeria.â€
One of the passengers angrily told THISDAY: â€œHow can you talk about the ease of doing business when a group of people who call themselves members of the union can ground your activities and you lose huge revenues. Nothing can be harsher than this and government must find a way to check the excesses of these unions. Now, many of us are stranded here just because some people, who I am sure did not exhaust discussions before embarking on picketing the airline just decided that the airline will not fly today.â€
The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) was joined in solidarity by all affiliates of the United Labour Congress (UCL) to carry out the picketing exercise over the refusal of Dana Air to allow their staff to join the unions.
NAAPE in support of other unions alleged that Dana Air engages in casualisation and that it refused its workers to join the unions, but in a statement signed by its spokesman, Kingsley Ezenwa, the airline said it does not have casual workers and that its personnel do not want to be members of the unions and it cannot force it to join.
One of the union leaders, Abdulrazaq Saidu told journalists that the strike was total, noting that no pilot or engineer with Dana would resume duty until their demands are resolved.
He said the era of anti-labour practices by any airline operator was gone, saying the exercise started with Arik Air recently and same would be replicated with other airlines in no distant time.
However, a source with the airline wondered why the unions took the action to shut down the carrierâ€™s operation, saying talks are ongoing to resolve the issue.
It was learnt that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Police, Airport Command among other stakeholders have intervened in the dispute.
In stopping the airline from operating, members of the union stationed at the premises of the domestic terminal (MMA2) with a loud Public Address System singing and dancing.
Many passengers of Dana Air are currently stranded as most of them were seen at the departure hall sitting on top of their luggage amid uncertainty surrounding their flights.
However, operations of other airlines operating at the terminal continue unhindered.
Reacting to the allegations of casualisation of its operations, Dana Air said they were not true.
The airline said it resumed flights after the earlier disruption of its operations.
â€œWe wish to apologise to our guests for the slight delays experienced today, November 21 2017, as result of the illegal disruption of our flight operations by NAAPE.
â€œWe wish to also state clearly that reason given by the union for their illegal action this morning is entirely is entirely false, baseless and malicious as there is no such thing as â€˜casualizationâ€™ of staff at Dana Air.
â€œWe have also advised the union times without number, that we are a law abiding, and liberal corporate citizen and are not against their activities or the activities of our staff members in these unions. We also cannot foist unionism on our staffs. We understand what freedom of association means, and we expect the unions to know better,â€ the airline said.