By Chinedu Eze
The Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) has accused the management of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operators of Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos of walking out of a meeting called by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to address its impasse with the unions.
This is as the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) has joined the ranks of unions planning to picket the terminal operator in the next one week, after the expiration of the 15 days ultimatum issued it by ATSSSAN.
The unions had accused the management of Bi-Courtney of “unjustifiably” sacking 26 workers who expressed intent to join any of the industry unions of their choice.
The President of ATSSSAN, Ahmadu Ilitrus, in an interview with newsmen in Lagos, alleged that the management of BASL also demanded the handing over of the controversial General Aviation Terminal (GAT) at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos to it before it could recall the 26 members of staff disengaged for unionism.
Apart from this, Ilitrus explained that the management also requested that the union should impress it on the government to allow the commencement of regional flight operations from its terminal as purportedly spelt out in its contractual agreement with the government.
He added that in the course of the meeting, the management further accused NCAA of bias against it, declaring that there was no going back on its planned picketing of the terminal operator once the ultimatum expires unless the management rescinded its decision.
According to him, apart from the unions, which were represented, security agencies in the industry were also involved in the meeting, stressing that the unions had tried all the available options to ensure that the disengaged workers were recalled all to no avail.
“The ultimatum to Bi-Courtney became necessary after the management walked out of the meeting called by NCAA in conjunction with all the security agencies at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.
“Bi-Courtney representatives told the meeting that it will not return the terminated staff until the unions and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria’s (FAAN) management surrenders GAT to it and allows it to commence international flights operations at MMA2.
“When they were cautioned about the security implication of their stand on the issue, they accused the meeting of bias and staged a walkout. It is equally important to state that the second meetings that held before the walkout were at the instance of NCAA,” he said.
When contacted, the spokesman of BASL, Chief Steve Ajulo, said he had no comment on the issue, but noted that he was not privy to the outcome of any meeting between his management in one hand and unions and NCAA on the other hand.
However, NAAPE has joined the ranks of unions planning service disruption at the terminal any moment from now.
NAAPE, in a letter with reference number Ref: NS/GS/NAAPE/Vol.53/1/2018, dated August 31, 2018 and addressed to the Managing Director of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, said it would be compelled to join forces with the others in order to make the picketing effective.